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ARA says Gerry Harvey is ‘out of touch’

June 17, 2010: The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has slammed retail hard man Gerry Harvey for ‘laughing off’ the real concerns of smaller retailers across the country at a panel discussion organised by rival association, the Australian National Retailers Association.

(The ANRA was set up as a lobbyist organisation by ‘Big Retail’ in opposition to the ARA, which has a broader membership including small retailers.)

Harvey said that Australia was in the middle of a boom and that the negative sentiments around retailing were ‘a joke’.

‘Around 95 percent of Australians are employed, we are earning more money than we have ever earned in our lives and we’re sitting around whingeing about how crook things are,’ he said.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said the majority of retailers across Australia would be fuming at Gerry Harvey’s arrogant comments and lackadaisical attitude towards the tough economic conditions and reduced consumer demand seriously damaging retail trade.

‘Any retail giant that has the hide to laugh off the very genuine concerns of smaller retailers is completely out-of-touch,’ Zimmerman said.

‘While Mr Harvey may not be feeling the impact of current retail trading conditions, smaller retailers are spending every waking hour trying to get customers in the door and hold onto their staff.

‘…Confidence levels for small retailers are the lowest of any small business sector, and you only need to look at ABS retail trade figures to see consumers are tightening their belts and slowing down their spending

‘In April 2010 total retail sales were only up 1.8 percent compared to the same time last year. This is appalling growth and well below the current rate of inflation. Sales for particular retail categories, including clothing, footwear and personal accessories, are actually in decline from last year.

‘I might take this opportunity to remind Mr Harvey he represents only one retail brand, and lucky for him he’s doing quite well, but unfortunately he isn’t representative of the broader retail sector,’ Zimmerman said.

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