Written on the 25 August 2015 by Jenna Rathbone


RETAIL is often overlooked as a career path and is occasionally seen as a means to an end, but the CEO of the National Retail Association says times are changing.

Trevor Evans (pictured) is encouraging young professionals on the Gold Coast to consider retail as a long-term employment opportunity.

Speaking at a YP Gold Coast event, he says retail is an incredibly important sector and it is a sector that shouldn't be overlooked in terms of its clout by way of employment, jobs opportunities and career pathways.

"Sometimes people can view the services sector, especially hospitality and retail, as the job on the way to something else," says Evans, who comes from four generations of shopkeepers and retailers.

"But an actual fact is that increasingly these businesses are employing a whole bunch of different talents and skillsets, and it has proven to be a really great career path for a whole lot of people.

"They might start off at the checkout or on the front counter or on the floor, but can go on to have fantastically successful careers in their own right."

Evans says the tree tiers of government need to assist and help retailers invest more in their people to remove the stigma associated with retail careers and prove there is a bigger and brighter path into management and senior management.

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) retail trade figures show that Australian retail turnover rose 0.7 per cent to $24.3 billion in June, following a rise of 0.4 per cent in May 2015, seasonally adjusted.

Three of the six retail sub-sectors measured by the ABS contributed to the improvement, led by 2.2 per cent for household goods.  There were falls in clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing, food retailing and department stores.

As the CEO of Australia's largest retail industry organisation, Evans leads the group in representing the interests of the retail, fast food and broader service sector, delivering information and advice to thousands of businesses nationally.

Looking at the Gold Coast, Evans says there is a "rosy" future for retailers when you consider the plans of the Gold Coast in the short-medium term, and the Commonwealth Games.

However, he says there needs to be a few changes including reducing red tape, scrapping penalty rates on the weekends and public holidays, and scrapping restrictions on trading hours.

"Restricted shopping hours is disappointing locals and tourists alike and I would like to see retailers of all kinds being able to choose when they open their doors," says Evans.

Robina and Pacific Fair shopping centres have an application before the Industrial Relations Commission to extend opening hours.

"We have got one eye on the Commonwealth Games coming up and we think that those shopping centres are potentially great places for trade and employment to take place," says Evans.

"We think that locals and tourists alike will want to shop in those additional hours and those shops should have the choice to open or not."

Author: Jenna Rathbone
About: Jenna Rathbone is a Queensland-based journalist who writes on a range of issues including business and property affairs and social issues.
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