Monday, June 17, 2024

WA retailers claim ‘deregulation by stealth’ on trading-hour push

Independent grocery store owners in Western Australia say the ruling Liberal Party’s decision to again change retail trading hours breaks an undertaking given by the WA Premier that the next changes would be made after the 2017 state election in relation to stores opening two hours earlier on Sundays.

WA Independent Grocers Association Treasurer Robert Halvorsen says his members were let down by the Government’s unheralded move to further extend weekday and Saturday trading hours throughout WA.

“Over the past 12 months, the Government has led everybody to believe that it only planned to correct trading hours anomalies affecting Masters in the hardware sector,” he said. “In light of this, other retailers have got on with running and planning their businesses, believing that no changes would occur before the 2017 state election.

“These proposed changes have been dropped on the industry without any consultation or forewarning, particularly to those most adversely affected.”

Mr Halvorsen said the Liberal Party had not sought or presented any evidence to support the viability of 7am openings for small retailers, or additional trading on Saturday afternoons.

“Studies in 2013 and 2014 of consumer and retailer support for 7am store openings in the supposedly high-demand Christmas period clearly highlight their lack of viability,” he said. “Furthermore, the Government’s previous changes to weeknight trading have been a flop, with consumers deserting the city and suburban shops before 6pm.

“What’s the point of further changes if retailers are not going to open their doors and because there is no consumer demand?”

Mr Halvorsen also questioned the impact on the state’s 100,000 retail workers, many of whom would be expected to find “almost non-existent” public transport to be at work by at least 6.30am.

“Added to this is the availability and cost of childcare services commencing before 7am,” he said.

Mr Halvorsen added that the Government appeared to have caved in to the demands of the large national and international retail corporations.

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