The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is calling on the Queensland, South Australian and Western Australian Governments to modernise their approach to trading hours for physical stores to create a more flexible, safer, competitive and customer-friendly retail environment.
The ARA is also calling on these three jurisdictions to follow the lead of states that have embraced deregulated trading hours like New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.
ARA CEO Paul Zahra emphasised the need to deregulate trading hours and remove barriers to customer convenience and safety – particularly as retailers aim to address declining discretionary spend during the all-important Holiday trading period.
“Customers expect to shop where and when they like – and they expect the same convenience in physical stores as they get online. The settings in the three states that have yet to deregulate are restrictive and don’t reflect the 24-hour retail economy we see around the world,” he said.
“This is a significant disadvantage to retailers within those states. It inhibits their ability to maximise sales at a time when higher costs of doing business and higher levels of debt are creating significant pressure, particularly for small business.
“These issues are most evident as we head into the all-important Christmas trading period when many discretionary retailers make up to two-thirds of their profits. Customers and retailers in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia are worse-off because of the highly regulated nature of trading hours in these three states.
“Shopping is no longer confined to brick-and-mortar stores with set trading hours. Consumers now expect convenience, choice and the ability to shop when it suits them. They also expect to shop the sales like Black Friday without the pressure of limited opening hours. It is time for state governments to recognise that the world of retail has transformed.
“An example of this disconnect is a decision made by the Western Australian Government, who declined our request to commence extended trading hours for the upcoming Holiday Period one week earlier than planned so consumers and retailers can take advantage of the weekend between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
“Another example is Queensland’s limited Holiday Trading Hours, which are complex for consumers and retailers alike. Retailers are broken down into a confusion classification of exempt and non-exempt businesses, and trading hours are different in specific areas or zones. This creates confusion for retailers and consumers, and dampens consumer spending at a time when we should be doing everything we can to grow sales.
“And South Australia’s Holiday Trading Hours are difficult to navigate for consumers, with different restrictions placed on retailers on certain public holidays like New Years Day – with CBD retailers able to trade, while metropolitan shopping districts are closed.
The ARA believes deregulating trading hours will benefit customers, retailers, government and the national economy.
“Differing shop trading hours between states is confusing and unnecessary. We urge Queensland, Western Australian and South Australian governments to reconsider their approach and embrace a more competitive, flexible, and consumer-centric retail environment, ” Mr Zahra said.
The ARA has an online resource which is updated regularly to help members navigate the complex state-by-state regulations for trading hours.
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