What can be done to address the worker shortages that many Australian businesses are experiencing?
By Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association CEO Mark McKenzie.
As I wander around the country talking to petrol-convenience retailers, there’s a general sense that the worst of Covid-19 is over and everyone is adjusting to a post-Covid world, whatever that is.
With a few exceptions, fuel retailers are reporting that fuel sales have returned to pre-Covid levels. Some retailers in regional areas of eastern Australia suggest that fuel sales are better than average, which is likely due to more and more Australians holidaying at home and/or taking weekend breaks in the country. A return to normal competition due to the reopening of the economy, along with rising world oil prices, mean that average margins are decreasing. But average earnings remain steady given the general rise in sales volumes at the pump.
It’s interesting to note that many businesses are reporting increased convenience sales relative to pre-Covid levels. During the lockdowns, many retailers reported a substantial rise in the sale of non-fuel products, particularly grocery items and prepared food offerings. Many of us put this down to the fact that customers were wary about visiting large supermarkets and were spending most of their time working from home. It therefore made sense that suburban outlets experienced increased sales as customers sought out small stores close to their homes.
But with most states having been free of statewide lockdowns since the start of the year, businesses in eastern Australia are reporting that, despite falling since the height of the pandemic, convenience sales are still 10-15 per cent higher than pre-Covid levels.
So, all in all, things look good for our industry in the near term. Well, not quite.
Read the full column from ACAPMA in the May/June issue of Convenience World.