Online retail staff hires look to rise, while bricks and mortar lags behind

Australian online retail businesses are set to hire staff at a higher rate than their in-store counterparts in the year ahead, according to new research.

The latest figures from the Roy Morgan Business Survey show that 16% of online retailers are likely to increase their employee numbers in the year ahead, while only 9% of store-based retailers plan to do the same.

The survey looked at 6900 Australian businesses in the six months to July 2013.

Across both sectors, 11% of retail businesses said they are likely to increase employee numbers over the next 12 months, on par with Australian businesses in general.

However, 10% of retail businesses said they were likely to decrease employee numbers in the period, compared to 8% of businesses across other sectors.

Roy Morgan Research industry communications director Norman Morris said that the uptake in online retailing by Australian consumers did not make this outcome a surprise.

“With just over half of the Australian population now purchasing online in an average three-month period, it is not surprising that online retailers are much more likely than bricks and mortar retailers to be planning to increase employee numbers over the next 12 months,” he said.

Morris said this reflected the finding that online retailers were slightly more likely than other Australian businesses to expand their workforce in the year ahead.

“The conclusion here is that the change in the combined workforce for both online and bricks and mortar retail is only likely to be a little behind that of all businesses in Australia.”

The results reflect information provided by some of Australia’s most prominent retail businesses in the recent full year 2012-13 financial reports.

Department stores David Jones and Myer both showed increased sales in their online retail arms, along with large boosts for Woolworths online, fashion business Specialty Fashion Group, apparel brand Country Road and entertainment retailer JB Hi-Fi.

A mid-year survey by the Boston Consulting Group showed Australia’s penchant for online shopping was high, particularly on overseas retail sites, with 51% of Australian consumers spending on overseas-based sites.

It found Australia was the leader of developed countries in frequency of online purchases from international sites. Variety of goods and better prices were key reasons cited for this trend.


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