Some smaller retail operators in and around Perth are taking advantage of the ad hoc nature of regulation in Western Australia to open 24 hours a day.
About a dozen retailers are now open for business 24-7, many in Perth’s inner suburbs, although the Tony Galati-owned Spudshed operations are open all day and night in Jandakot, Kelmscott and Innaloo.
IGA is one of the better-known chains to have moved to a 24-hour service, with a number of its stores in or near the city centre open on a full-time basis.
Independent Grocers Association WA president John Cummings said there was not a substantial amount of trade after midnight in IGA stores that now remained open, however, many stores were semi-operational for most of the night anyway.
“Most of them don’t actually close,” he said.
That was due to cleaning and stocking needs, and the fact that butchers, for example, often started work long before normal opening hours.
Ultimately that meant it could be cost effective for a business to take some turnover during that time.
However, Mr Cummings said stores in high-profile traffic routes close to the city would be more likely to attract sufficient business to make the additional hours worthwhile.
The four all-night IGA stores are owned by two major players, with the Leederville and Canning Bridge operations owned by Greg Brindle.
The emergence of 24-hour retail has been a gradual evolution.
This year, the state government has abolished trading hour restrictions altogether in Bunbury, and extended hours in Capel and Busselton.
Kmart extended hours at one of its Bunbury operations late last year, but has reportedly enjoyed limited success.
The government also changed trading hours in Perth during Easter and Anzac Day holidays.
Yet within the metropolitan area, different treatment still applies depending on business size and product lines.
Coles falls outside of the current regulation, and therefore can’t open completely at its discretion, a spokesperson for the company said.
“Coles has outlined to the state government that it believes deregulated hours provide shoppers with greater convenience and choice, and this in turn is good for jobs and economic growth,” the spokesperson said.
“Deregulation of trading hours provides greater convenience and choice when it comes to shopping.”
That argument is supported by a Productivity Commission report last year, which backed further loosening of restrictions.
“In Perth, the introduction of Sunday trading in 2012 has created additional employment across supermarkets and other large retail outlets – for large grocery retailers, an increase of more than 1,000 employees,” the report into competitiveness of retail trade said.
The biggest benefits will be for consumers, however, according to the report.
“On weekends in particular, there is a strong demand for shopping activity immediately after shops open and another significant peak in shopping activity just before shops close.
“The distorted shopping patterns evident in Western Australia lead to more congestion and inconvenience for shoppers … retail trading hours restrictions continue to impose costs on retailers and reduce consumer welfare.”
Mr Cummings said he was concerned larger retailers would use deregulation to increase market share at the expense of smaller operators, particularly in areas where demand for around-the-clock retail would be low.
He said small businesses had driven a dramatic growth in employment of more than 25,000 people in the retail sector in WA over the past three years, while bigger employers had cut back.