By Grant Shepherd
SYDNEY, NSW: The Australian Retailers Association has criticised retail giant Gerry Harvey for being arrogant and lackadaisical after he recently laughed off the concerns of small retailers around the country.
Russell Zimmerman, ARA executive director, said that Harvey’s comments were arrogant and showed his lackadaisical attitude towards the tough economic conditions and reduced consumer demand for smaller retailers.
“Any retail giant that has the hide to laugh off the very genuine concerns of smaller retailers is completely out-of-touch,” he 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.”
Zimmerman said that recent statistics highlighted that small retailers are currently doing it tough.
"'The June ARA Australian Retailers Index will show 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,” he said.
"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.
Zimmerman emphasised that Gerry Harvey only represents a small section of the entire retail sector.
"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,"