In welcome news for many small and medium businesses, the government has decided to extend the JobKeeper subsidy into next year.
The Prime Minister announced today that once the current JobKeeper rate expires in September, the scheme will continue at a lowered rate for a further six months through to March next year.
While retailers are happy with the initiative, National Retail Association (NRA) CEO Dominique Lamb says an extension on an industry basis would be more appropriate.
“The JobKeeper scheme has undoubtedly saved many jobs, the challenge was always going to be how it would be scaled back,” she says.
“We’d have preferred an approach that extended it by industry. Sectors such as retail and tourism were always going to require additional assistance compared to other parts of the economy.
“Only one per cent of retailers are looking to employ more people at present. The extension of JobKeeper until March will hopefully result in a boost to business confidence, but many employers will continue to tread carefully.
“Ultimately we really need to see a pickup in discretionary spending to prevent many small businesses from hitting the wall. That is why careful consideration also needs to be given to programs such as JobSeeker so that we don’t see an overnight plunge in consumer spending.”
Businesses will be reassessed with a turnover test in early October and early January to ensure the level of support is still required.
This will provide much needed relief for many struggling retailers as we approach the most critical trading period of the year, says Australian Retailers Association (ARA) CEO, Paul Zahra.
“We are conscious that the October to December quarter is a make or break period for many retailers, particularly this year as it includes the all-important Christmas trading period and the start of the Boxing Day sales,” he says.
“The decision to extend the scheme will ensure that jobs in the retail sector, many of which are held by women and young people, will be preserved through a period that is vital for retailers’ recovery.
“JobKeeper, JobSeeker and other support measures have succeeded in providing an important boost to our economy. An extension of the program, tailored to those in highest need is something we have been advocating for, and will support the recovery of the retail sector, which is crucial to our wider economic recovery,” he adds.