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Message from the CEO, Trevor Evans

News this week of Woolworths’ decision to abandon its failing Masters chain has come as no surprise to the retail and business community, after widely-publicised losses.
Post-Christmas is a time that traditionally sees retailers assessing their performance, with similar announcements having occurred in January in previous years. While we now add Masters to a shortlist of unfortunate stories including Dick Smith and Laura Ashley, these cases are by no means a reflection on the current retail climate, which is experiencing growth and momentum in many quarters.
Economic modelling released by the NRA this week indicates that job creation in our sector overall has been strong.
The data, collated by our in-house Business & Industry Intelligence unit, shows as many as 13,000 new jobs were created during December, bringing the total number of people working in retail to over 1.3 million for the first time in Australian history.
These figures are good news for Australia, and they suggest retail is performing more strongly than many other sectors nationwide, as other industries like mining continue to face challenges.

Thinking about the future, and as our sector continues to create new jobs, you should be aware that your association is strongly committed to the training of jobseekers hoping to find work in retail.
Through our training division and our work with governments, we’ve helped launch the retail careers of thousands of people across Australia.
For example, we help to teach jobseekers about the various roles they may come across in retail, we give them valuable skills on personal presentation in the workplace, go through employer expectations, and undergo problem solving, team work and time management scenarios.
On the job work experience is a really valuable component of our jobseeker training, and can be an excellent recruitment tool for employers. Dependant on the circumstances, most of these work experience placements are at no cost to the employer.
Please contact us if you are interested in supporting our sector’s next wave of talent by having work experience trainees in your store.

Trevor Evans, CEO

PS – The NRA has today made further submissions to the Victorian Government over its approach to new public holidays. Some might question how genuine the “consultation” in this process has really been – in the last round of consultation, the Minister conceded that “a large number of submissions were opposed to the public holiday, however the Andrews Labor Government did not commit to the new public holidays for the purposes of economic stimulus”. Nonetheless, your association will continue to argue strongly in favour of the facts, our sector and jobs for Victoria.

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NT Reducing red tape for retail shop leases

The Northern Territory Government is seeking comments from the public on a proposal to streamline the regulation of retail shop tenancies.

The purpose of the Business Tenancies (Fair Dealings) Act (the Act) is to establish a regulatory framework that promotes greater certainty, fairness and clarity in the commercial relationship between landlords and tenants in certain small business tenancies.

The Act commenced operation on 1 July 2004 with reviews conducted in 2011 and 2013. Stakeholder feedback suggests that while the policy objectives of the Act remain valid, the Act is not necessarily the most appropriate vehicle for securing those objectives.

Against the background of the existence of other legislative schemes which generally cover business interactions (including the recent extension of protections against unfair contract terms to small businesses by the Commonwealth) and a general desire of Government to reduce unnecessary red tape, a discussion paper has been developed that proposes the repeal of the Business Tenancies (Fair Dealings) Act and establishment of a Code of Practice for certain matters specific to retail shop leases under Part 13 of the Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading Act.

The NRA is interested in hearing your views on this proposal for inclusion in a submission to the Northern Territory Government  Feedback is required no later than Friday 29 January 2016.

Click here to view the Reducing Red Tape for Retail Shop Leases: Review of the Business tenancies (Fair Dealings) Act discussion paper.

Research continues to show the power of catalogues

The Australasian Catalogue Association (ACA) recently reported that catalogues continue to perform strongly, holding their own against other media channels. In the latest quarterly ACRS Shooper Reports, catalogues demonstrate their value, tracked in terms of audience readership, channel usage, channel purpose and drivers of shopping behaviour.
When making purchasing decisions and looking for information, 74% of shoppers use catalogues 'always to sometimes'. 42% of shoppers use catalogues for general information and 46% use catalogues for price comparisons. Digital media indicate the weaker channels with Social Media ranked 19% for general information and 5% for price comparison, Tablets reported 20% for general information and 22% for price comparison.

Kellie Northwood, CEO of ACA recently commented that "The ACRS behavioural tracking highlighted, on average, shoppers choose to read catalogues to find competitive prices and chase bargains. In the comfort of their own home consumers will often read catalogues for enjoyment and prefer reading catalogues more frequently, with an advertorial design, as their most preferred style of catalogue."

Your exclusive invitation to the Telstra Innovation in Retail Summit

As a valued National Retail Association (NRA) e-news subscriber we are delighted to invite you to join some of the brightest minds in the retail industry at the inaugural Telstra Innovation in Retail Summit.
Over one action-packed day, you’ll be inspired by international thought leaders, learn from hands-on innovation pioneers and engage with a select group of peers, all with one thing on their mind: Innovating for Advantage in a landscape that’s changing at lightning speed.
Delve deeper into hot topics of particular relevance to you and your business, with engaging workshops led by world-class experts. Take a behind the scenes tour of some of Australia’s most innovative retailers. Explore solutions that will change the way we will think, shop, and do business tomorrow with an exhibition of the latest retail technology from some of the world’s leading ICT vendors.
We’ll explore these topics and more, with keynote speakers including: When:   Thursday 18 February 2016
Time:    7:30am for 7:45am start. Breakfast to be served. Event concludes at 6pm.
Where:  Level 2, Telstra Customer Insight Centre, 400 George Street Sydney
RSVP:   Click here to RSVP

This signature event will be of great interest to all forward-thinkers interested in the nexus of retail and technology.
Places are strictly limited, so reserve your place today.

Big Insight #1 - Data-backed decisions define retail's future

While retailers grapple with offering multichannel shopping experiences, the industry’s next big hurdle emerges: data deluge. 
“Retail has an opportunity to completely transform itself using data. It’s all about understanding your business and making decisions that are better,” claims 2016 NRF Big Show headlining speaker, Steve Brown from Intel.
Brown’s Big Ideas:
  • A New Retail Brand Experience: “We’re seeing customers interact with brands in completely new ways,” says Brown. “But a lot of brands are really concerned, saying, ‘I don’t know how to interact with millennials, I don’t know what they want.’ ” The key to unlocking this relationship lies in data.
  • New Retail Relationships: In the next few years, brands must add more value to their relationships with shoppers. It’s not just about having a nice shop with nice things for sale, it’s about making sure the customer trusts you and your brand. The road map to building these relationships begins with data to truly understand what is happening in the store and who the customer is.
  • Retail Technology for Data: “The store of the not-so-distant future is one that really has access to real-time information and allows you to make offers and experiences for where your customers are right now, at this very moment,” states Brown.
Brown’s 3 steps to retail data success you ask?
  1. The key is to know sooner, decide smarter and act faster than your competitors.
  2. Look at data and figure out how to unlock its value.
  3. Determine what new data sources are needed to generate more insights.
Retail’s Big Show might have come and gone for 2016 but it’s not over just yet! The National Retail Association (NRA) and partner CloudFirst, are pleased to bring you more of the big insights from retail’s largest global conference at the next round of Innovation and Technology Committee (ITC) breakfasts across Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.
From big data to the latest cloud based technology and digital solutions that put your customers first we have you covered. Download all you need to know.
Places are strictly limited. Click on the links below to find out more and to register.
Brisbane - March 8 2016
Sydney - March 9 2016
Melbourne - March 10 2016
Please note that NRA members need to be logged in to purchase member tickets. Contact 1800 RETAIL (738 245) if you are unsure of your member login.
To keep up to date with the latest insights, join the Innovation and Technology Committee LinkedIn group here.

Beware of misleading 'drip pricing' practices

‘Drip pricing’ is a practice used by some retailers during online purchasing, where a headline price is advertised up-front, but other fees and charges are added throughout the purchasing process. Often the extra fees and charges are unavoidable or are applied in most transactions, making it difficult for consumers to compare offers.

The Federal Court recently found that Jetstar Airways and Virgin Australia contravened the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) by engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct and making false or misleading representations about the price of particular advertised airfares, in proceedings brought against each of the airlines by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

"The ACCC's concern with drip pricing has always been to ensure that consumers are not misled and that businesses are not unfairly disadvantaged by misleading practices," ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

The advertised price of products should include all mandatory amounts, such as:
  • taxes and duties
  • credit card surcharges, if you apply them
  • packaging and handling costs, for items to be shipped
  • postage costs, if the customer has no option other than having the item delivered.
Only optional charges, like insurance, can be disclosed later during the purchasing process. You should also avoid ‘pre-selections’, where your checkout process automatically ticks optional extras and the customer has to untick them to avoid purchasing the optional extra.

Drip pricing conduct was a priority enforcement area in the ACCC’s 2014 Compliance and Enforcement Policy with the ACCC addressing identified behaviour across a number of industries. It remains a focus for the ACCC, as part of the ACCC’s current priority area of systemic consumer issues in the online marketplace.

If you have questions about drip pricing or any other areas of the Australian Consumer Law, contact one of our Workplace Advisors on 1800 RETAIL (738 245).

IR Update: Fair Work Commission unable to hear anti-bullying claims from volunteers

In a recent decision before the Fair Work Commission, it has been held that volunteers are unable to make anti-bullying claims against their employers, as they do not satisfy the definition of “worker” under s 789FC of the Fair Work Act 2010 (Cth).
In the facts of this case, a volunteer had brought an application for an anti-bullying order against a community arts centre in northern Queensland. The not-for-profit gallery was run by a small management committee and was established to encourage local artists through its educational programs and exhibitions.
According to the School of Arts, the Fair Work Commission was unable to hear the anti-bullying order, as the volunteer could not be classified as a “worker” under s 789FC. In the alternative, they argued that the nature of the organisation meant it was a constitutionally covered business as defined in s 789FD.
Under the Act, the term “worker” is defined by the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 as "an individual who performs work in any capacity including an employee, a contractor, a subcontractor, an outworker, an apprentice, a trainee, a student gaining work experience or a volunteer." Despite this definition, there is an exception for those who volunteer with an association that has no employees.
In light of this, Commissioner Peter Hampton was required to determine whether the school was a business operating for profit or gain. He also considered the definition of “volunteer” in the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, which is outlined as “a person who is acting on a voluntary basis.”
The applicant argued that she was not a volunteer as she received a number of benefits from the gallery, including “in kind” payments and free membership during her time as a treasurer of the committee.
This was rejected by Commissioner Hampton, who held that the reduced payments did not turn the relationship into an employment contract. In his view, “the incentive to offer assistance in the gallery or garden would not in my view change the fundamental nature of the relationship nor the nature of the [school] itself.”
Thus, in order to meet the eligibility requirements, the applicant must have been volunteering for a person conducting a business or undertaking. Here, the School of Arts was deemed a volunteer community group with a strong community purpose and therefore Commissioner Hampton was forced to refuse the application on jurisdictional grounds.
In any case, the applicant was no longer a member of the School nor its treasurer and thus it was held that there was no need for a prevention order. “There is no apparent basis upon which the [applicant] could now be considered to be a worker … and … there would be no power for the Commission to make any orders in this matter.”
The full text of this decision can be found here

Scholarship funding available to female leaders in the VET sector

The National Excellence in Educational Leadership Initiative (NEELI) recently announced that $3,500 scholarships are now available to women in the Vocational Education & Training sector to assist them to participate in the Advanced Leadership Program (ALP)

Created to provide tailored development and support to Australia’s growing pool of senior female leaders, the ALP is enabling the advancement of high potential women across all areas of the education sector.

Developed in consultation with an unparalleled group of educational stakeholders the ALP directly responds to a national need to increase the representation of women in formal leadership positions across all industries.

During a career-defining six month journey, participants accelerate their career potential, become part of an exceptional peer network and consider the broader implications of gender equality throughout the Australian Vocational Education & Training sector.

To find out how to apply and view the course Prospectus Click Here

NRA Digital Business Kit for Retailers

The ABS have just released data for 2014, and the numbers show that the proportion of small retail business with a web presence grew to 55.3%, as compared to 47.6% in 2013. This indicates an increase of 8% in just 12 months. It also shows that 29.0% of retailers rely completely on non-IT specialists as their main source of IT support. The NRA Digital Business Kit has been designed to help maximise the limited time non-IT specialists in small retailers have when they are building their businesses through the use of technology.  
The comprehensive information contained in the NRA Digital Business Kit means that there is no need to search various internet sites when looking for information.  Each of the ten modules are structured to allow users to access only what you are interested in, and each page is a stand-alone topic. There is no need to read all of the modules, just what you need.
The site is FREE to access, and new information is being added monthly to keep up to date with the new technology trends in retail. Take a look and join the 7,500 users that have already accessed this resource.

If you would like to see any other specific information added to the NRA Digital Business Kit, or if you would like to share how you are using technology in your retail store, please contact Yvonne Williams, Director of Training and Industry Projects.
The NRA Digital Business Kit can be accessed here.

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