Businesses in the retail and wholesale trade industry 

Gain an understanding of the legal, operational and business issues relevant to the retail and wholesale trade industry.

The retail and wholesale trade industry includes:

  • electrical and electronic goods
  • floor covering
  • food and grocery
  • fuel
  • furniture and housewares
  • hardware
  • building and garden supplies
  • motor vehicles and parts
  • personal accessories
  • pharmaceutical
  • recreational goods
  • textiles
  • clothing and footwear

The industry also covers non-store retailing and retail commission-based buying and/or selling.

Further advice and assistance

You should check our general business information for additional regulations and obligations relevant to your business. For further advice and assistance, contact your accountant, solicitor or business adviser. You may also wish to consult with an industry association or group for more information and advice on your industry.

Legislation, standards and initiatives

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

Licences and permits

State or territory governments manage the licences and permits for the retail and wholesale trade industry.

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
  • restricted trading days
  • handling, storage and use of chemicals or dangerous substances

Industrial chemicals

If you import industrial chemicals, you must register your business with the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme. You will need to pay a registration fee.

Items that could contain industrial chemicals include:

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

Search the Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS)

Find the licences and permits you need for your business.


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.

Visit the ATO website to learn more about the GST requirements for the food retailers and wholesale trade industry.

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

Employ people

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

Workplace health and safety (WHS)

All business must comply with general occupational health and safety regulations. The retail and wholesale trade industry also has state specific WHS requirements. These include:

  • occupational noise management
  • standards for protective clothing and equipment
  • standards for occupational safety signage
  • national standard for manual handling
  • prevention of burns from hot liquids, surfaces or steam
  • prevention and response to workplace bullying
  • prevention of workplace violence (e.g. robbery)
  • electrical safety


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

Government organisations

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