Council expected to oppose longer retail trading hours
EXPANDED trading hours which would have stores like Woolworths and Coles to remain open longer has received its first "no thanks" from the Sunshine Coast.
Sunshine Coast Council officers have recommended councillors instruct the CEO to write to the Queensland Industrial Commission opposing the proposal.
Councillors will decide whether to accept this recommendation at next Thursday's ordinary meeting.
The National Retail Association (NRA), which represents the interests of the retail, fast food and broader service sector, lodged an application in October with the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission.
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It seeks to merge as many different trading zones as possible in south-east Queensland. This would have the major stores open 7am to 9pm Monday to Saturday, from 9am to 6pm on Sundays and 9am to 6pm on most public holidays.
The allowable hours for trading on Saturday, with stores open from 8am to 5.30pm, has remained unchanged for most parts of south-east Queensland since 1994.
Master Grocers Australia (MGA), representing the independent supermarkets in Queensland, wrote to the council opposing the plan.
The Queensland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIQ) was also consulted on the application and advised the council in March the NRA application was "detrimental to small business competing with market majors".
This was despite its survey showing 55% of businesses across regional Queensland supported deregulation of trading hours, with 77% saying SEQ should be treated as one trading zone.
These are their reasons why expanded trading hours would be detrimental for the Coast:
- It will deprive small and independent business of their best trading hours of the week.
- Small and independent shops can already open at these times and take advantage of the fact the large retailers are closed.
- This was not the time to change the local rules of trading when the state and federal governments were reviewing competition policy, deregulation and trading hours in general.
Submissions to this review (the Harper Review) are open until May 26.
The CCIQ argued the "tactics adopted by NRA are aimed at securing the full liberalisation of shop trading hours in SEQ, which is detrimental to small business and competing with major markets".
The National Retail Association's arguments for expanded trading hours include:
- Consumer trends show consumers are shopping later, especially on Saturdays. The application sought to address this trend for the benefit of consumers.
- The value of weekend sales for some operators could be as high as 40% of total weekly sales and extended hours would address "current congestion".
- An opportunity was provided for small businesses in shopping centres to increase their operating hours and, as a result their sales as the opening hours of larger operators impact on a shopping centre's trading hours.
Additional employment of 10 to 15% per day (50 to 60 hours per week) was available, predominantly in food retailing.
There had been record levels of population growth since 1994 when the current allowable hours for Saturday trading were set.
This population growth was expected to continue.
Tourism Queensland's figures for the 18.2 million domestic and international visitors in Queensland between 2000 and 2010 were also highlighted.
The application seeks to merge as many different zones as possible within SEQ, into a single, harmonised area with one set of rules, with consistent allowable hours from Monday through to Saturday.
Having 50 distinct trading hour zones around Queensland, with different rules applying for each, "causes complexity and confusion for both consumers and business".
There are business costs associated with compliance with these rules and indirect costs incurred by consumers arising from confusion and mistakenly travelling to shops that are shut at different times.