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Retailers are boosting staff numbers in anticipation of an improvement in consumer spending, according to the Australian Retailers Association.                 retail

The industry group’s executive director, Richard Evans, said surveys of association members showed a 12 per cent jump in employment for small and medium-sized retailers this month, painting a much more positive picture than figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics earlier this month.

The number of people employed in the retail sector fell by less than 0.1 per cent last month compared with February, on a seasonally adjusted basis, but the ABS also reported an increase in underutilisation—the proportion of the workforce that is either unemployed or not working as many hours as it would like.

The rate of underutilisation among female workers was 9.1per cent last month, compared with 6.4 per cent for men, which the ABS attributed to the larger proportion of women working in industries with high levels of casual employment, such as retail.

However, Mr Evans said most retailers were holding on to skilled staff in preparation for rising demand, with 68 per cent reporting no change in employment levels in the past quarter.

“A further 16 per cent of retailers actually increased their number of staff during the same period,” he said.

“Retailing works in cycles, and although the sector has experienced a downturn, good retailers are doing their best to hold on to skilled staff as consumer confidence continues to grow and a new type of consumer emerges.”

The same trend was in play among the bigger retailers, with David Jones boosting staffing levels around the Mother’s Day shopping period after the delivery of the federal government’s fiscal stimulus package in April led to a sharp rebound in sales.

Mr Evans said the stimulus package and lower interest rates meant most consumers had more cash available to spend, but “negative and fear-filled commentary” had fuelled a tendency among consumers to cut discretionary spending in favour of saving or paying off debt.

This meant shoppers would be in a better position to spend when confidence picks up again—with the ARA forecasting an improvement as soon as the September quarter.

Source  :  www.careerone.com.au

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lending moneyTHE Rudd Government will give the $21 billion margin lending industry three weeks to digest a proposed overhaul of the regulatory and legislative regime.
The Minister for Corporate Law Nick Sherry will today release a draft copy of the legislation with a view to introducing it into parliament next month.

The legislation includes new national laws to regulate margin lending under a standard national regime, reports The Australian.

Margin lending is not currently regulated in Australia and is considered to have been one of the main destroyers of investor wealth as the stockmarket collapsed last year.

It cost some investors their homes as their margin lending accounts blew up, triggering margin calls many couldn’t afford to pay.

Mr Sherry said yesterday taking out equity on a family home was a key area of interest to the Government.

“One area where we have had a high level of concern has been where people have been advised to take equity out of their family home and then to use this debt to leverage into buying shares through a margin loan.

“This double-debt trap, with a home as security, is of serious concern,” he said.

“Under our new responsible margin lending laws the lender will be required to assess a person’s true loan-to-value ratio

“This means the lender can no longer assume the money brought to the table is not itself debt, a major new improvement” that would reduce the risk of people losing their homes.

Properly geared margin lending, backed by full disclosure, had a place, but the Rudd Government would not tolerate ordinary Australians being misled into grossly inappropriate margin loans that could cost a family everything they owned, including their home, he said.

Under the new laws, lenders will be regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and be required to hold an Australian Financial Services Licence, be members of low-cost external dispute bodies, clearly disclose fees and commissions before lending, and lend under a tailored margin-lending-specific set of responsible lending obligations.

Between June last year and December 30, the number of margin calls received by 205,000 Australians with margin loans increased 458 per cent, as the share market dropped 40 per cent.

http://www.news.com.au/perthnow/money/story/0,26926,25441887-5015860,00.html

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