The carbon tax has been dragged into the spotlight once again, with a new survey by the peak retail body showing 80% of businesses say they have been negatively impacted by the tax.
The Australian Retailers Association recently surveyed 215 retailers about the carbon tax, and found 98% are not aware of government compensation programs relating to the tax.
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The survey also found 60% of retailers believe consumers have spent less since carbon pricing was introduced.
The retailers were asked a range of questions such as “Please indicate how the carbon tax has affected your business” and “Do you believe the carbon tax has affected consumer spending within your business?”
When retailers were asked to name government-supplied programs their business has been able to access, comments included “None that we are aware of” and “Did not know there was one”.
Another retailer named the NSW Government’s Energy Efficiency for Small Business Program, which offers up to 50% rebates for energy efficiency measures implemented by small businesses.
However, the retailer described the program as “disappointing”.
When asked to indicate how the carbon tax has affected their business, retailers produced a range of comments including:
- Increase in raw materials, all our merchandise is increasing.
- Cost to operate and not quite sure the impact from suppliers at this stage. Too early to assess.
- Very difficult to assess the pass-on costs other than in electricity and this is also caught up with network cost increases.
- Increased cost of product. Increased expenses.
- Rising electricity costs.
- Consumer attitude.
- Higher delivery costs for stock and those that used to deliver for free now charge a freight fee.
- Power costs up 40% since July.
- Supplier costs have gone up and input costs have also gone up.
According to ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman, the results are concerning.
“The introduction of carbon pricing was a massive legislative change for small business and one which has had a significant impact,” Zimmerman said in a statement.
“In a climate of already suppressed retail spending, retailers are taking the hit of the carbon tax as consumers bypass the stores to pay household bills.
“Meanwhile, the cost of doing business has gone up for retailers due to higher utility bills and costs accumulated throughout the supply chain.
“[These costs] eventually fall onto retailers’ bottom lines and hit their customers’ already-sensitive hip pocket nerve.”
Zimmerman said many retailers reported “significant increases” in their bills, as well as a willingness to consider measures to reduce their carbon footprint, such as more efficient lighting.
“The key challenge is in ensuring businesses are aware of any assistance they can access,” he said.
“The ARA is calling on government to provide the funding and information retailers need to cope with the adverse affects carbon pricing is having on their business.”
Zimmerman said the ARA is listening to, and liaising with, government at all levels in order to deliver “much-needed” information and training to retailers.