Business types in this industry 

The retail industry includes traditional sales outlets for consumers and business as well as online retailers and commission based selling. Businesses include:

  • electrical, electronic and whitegoods
  • floor coverings, furniture and housewares
  • food and grocery
  • fuel
  • hardware, building and garden supplies
  • motor vehicles, trailers, parts and accessories
  • clothing and footwear
  • personal accessories
  • pharmaceuticals and cosmetics
  • recreational goods
  • textiles
  • books, magazines, papers and office supplies

Legislation, standards and initiatives

You must be aware of the laws that apply to the retail and wholesale trade industry.

Licences and permits

The licences and permits you require may vary depending on what you are selling, where you are selling, processes involved in producing goods for sale as well as Federal, State and Local government rules.

The licences and permits you may need include:

  • erecting/displaying signage
  • playing video/sound recordings
  • preparing and/or selling food
  • selling and distributing alcohol
  • selling tobacco products
  • disposal of waste
  • importing goods
  • zoning permits and noise restrictions
  • restricted trading days and hours
  • handling, storage and use of chemicals or dangerous substances

Industrial chemicals

If you import industrial chemicals, you must register your business with the Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme (AICIS). You will need to pay a registration fee.

Items that could contain industrial chemicals include:

  • soap
  • cosmetics
  • paint
  • glue
  • printing ink
  • cleaning products

Find the licences and permits you need for your business

Search the Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS) to find information on the licences you may need.


The retail and wholesale trade industry have specific goods and services tax (GST) measures. Know your GST obligations and register with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to ensure you can claim your GST credits.

Other tax measures that may apply to your business:

  • retailers who import goods must be aware that GST and duty fees apply on imports over $1000
  • small retailers may be eligible for tax concessions

Other ATO resources

The Australian Taxation Office provides a range of industry benchmarks which may be of assistance when setting up or managing your business. Visit ATO Retail trade Benchmarks to learn more.

Learn more about the GST requirements for the food retailers and wholesale trade industry.

Employ people

If you employ staff, you need to comply with Australia’s national workplace laws specific to the retail and wholesale trade industry.

Use our checklist for small business owners to help you meet Australian laws when hiring an employee. We’ve also included some tips that might help you through the hiring process.

If you're ready to employ someone, create an employment contract tailored to the award and your business needs.

Workplace health and safety (WHS)

There are general work health and safety regulations for all businesses, however there are state and territory WHS requirements that apply to businesses in the retail and wholesale trade industry industry:

Visit the Safe Work Australia website for state-specific WHS requirements.


While retailers do not generally rely heavily on the environment, they can still have a significant impact. The main environmental issues that businesses in the retail and wholesale trade industry should understand include

  • state based plastic bag ban
  • waste management and reduction
  • environmental labelling for electrical products
  • recycling
  • reporting
  • sustainability


Alongside compulsory insurances, the retail and wholesale trade industry has specific insurances. These insurances include:

  • public liability insurance
  • equipment and machinery
  • property and buildings
  • vehicles
  • business interruption

Find support

If you need advice or support, consider getting help from your industry association, a business adviser, accountant or legal professional.

Further advice and assistance

Check our general business information for additional regulations and obligations relevant to your business.

For further advice and assistance, consider contacting your accountant, solicitor, business adviser or industry association.

Read next

Read our fair trading section for more information on product safety, labelling, warranty and refund regulations.

Check out our insurance information to find out more about insurance options for your business.

Understand how marketing and location can support the growth of your retail and wholesale trade business.