In recent months growth in the Australian retail sector has slowed to a crawl, as shop owners struggle with the worst retail sales growth since the famed last recession ofover 28 years ago. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident, than the strip of shops surrounding the local electorate office of Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Cronulla.
Rather than being the hive of activity one would expect in a relatively prosperous area like the Shire, four out of five of the shops surrounding the PM’s office are empty, marked by with the same ‘For Lease’ signs sitting in the window that have become common on streets and in shopping centres across the country.
The only other sign of life in this depressing microcosm of the Australian retail economy is the ‘Oriental Thai Massage’ parlour downstairs from Morrison’s office.
With retail sales volumes going backwards over the past 12 months, small businesses and retailers have been doing it tough for some time now.
However, despite the dire conditions in the retail sector that saw 55,000 small businesses close their doors for the last time in 2018, the Morrison government remains reticent to put aside it’s much talked about surplus to help save Aussies jobs and businesses.
In the struggling economy, it’s not just retailers feeling the pinch of lower growth. In the year to June, the Australian economy created just 64,000 private sector jobs, out of a total of 310,000.
When contrasted with a similar period between February 2017 and February 2018, the economy created 417,000 private sector jobs out of 422,000 in total.
This lacklustre private sector jobs growth has contributed to the ongoing low wage growth environment, as non-government workers increasingly compete for a greatly reduced number of positions compared with recent years.
As calls for a stimulus to protect jobs and kick-start the broader economy continues to grow louder from the RBA and economists, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the Morrison government will need to step in to support the basis of that old Liberal Party slogan “Jobs and Growth”.
In recent months, the Morrison government has relied on its tax cuts and the RBA’s interest rate cuts to hopefully spur the economy back to stronger growth but so far both measures have proved relatively ineffective, as consumers seek to pay down debt rather than spending their windfall at the shops.
Ultimately the Morrison government needs to take action on the economy, to support small business and the creation of jobs. Because right now, the economy is quite literally falling apart around the Prime Minister’s own office in his own electorate.
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