Retail is characterised largely by traditional shopfronts, boutiques and family owned businesses. There are several large retailers in larger regional centres, such as the Country Target in Kerang and Harvey Norman at Mildura. There are also several specialist retailers that operate in business-to-business models, dealing directly with various agribusinesses. The workforce is characterised by a large proportion of young people looking for part-time and casual work during their studies or gap year, and small business owners aged 45 and over.
While forecast population growth is low, high growth in agribusiness and the visitor economy will contribute to growth in retail. Demand will be greatest for retailers in essential non-durable goods and services. This includes local supermarkets and grocery stores, hairdressers, pharmacists, service stations and related retailers. Aldi for instance has met with Mildura Rural City Council to discuss a $3.5M development in Mildura.
In contrast, demand for retailers in luxury goods and services, such as fashion designer materials, are mixed due to growth in global competition, online shopping, volatility in commodity prices and exchange rates. Furthermore, limited weekend trading means retail demand from locals and visitors is sometimes lost to neighbouring towns such as Echuca. Sustained growth in these industries is dependent on the sector’s capacity to maintain its competitive advantage.
While pathways for career development are limited in family-owned retail businesses, vocational training in customer service, digital marketing and visual merchandising is highly valuable to employers. These skills will be increasingly important for retail businesses due to forecast growth in regional competition and online shopping. Vocational training can also play a greater role in supporting small retail businesses. This includes development of valuable skill sets such as planning and financial management. However, unless delivery models are revised, demand for vocational training will be mixed. Small businesses for instance cannot afford significant time away from standard business hours to pursue structured training.
Skills and training