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Independents battle on hours

INDEPENDENT retailers have joined forces in an effort to persuade consumers and government that longer shopping hours will result in less shopping choice.

Launched at an anti-deregulation rally this week, organised by the independent supermarket industry, the ‘More Hours Means Less Shops’ campaign is aimed at educating consumers about the long-term effects of retail trading hours deregulation.

According to WA Independent Grocer’s Association president John Cummings, creating more shopping hours will lead to job losses and less choice for consumers.

“We have produced bag stuffers [leaflets] that say if you deregulate shopping hours, small business people cannot open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and will exit the industry,” Mr Cummings said.

“We are asking customers to sign individual letters at the stores and we will present them to our local members.”

He said deregulation of trading hours would also affect Western Australian producers, as Australia’s major supermarket chains, Coles Myer and Woolworths, bought a lot of fresh produce from the eastern States.

“I think that West Australians would expect that the majority of food comes from this State,” Mr Cummings said.

Greater penetration by the major chains would lead to less choice for consumers, he said.

“Together, Woolworths and Coles Myer now pock-et 40 cents in every retail dollar spent by Australian consumers. Moves by our State Government to provide these corporate, east coast-based retailers with longer trading hours in WA will give them still more market power and make them less accountable to consumers in terms of prices, customer service and convenience,” Mr Cummings said.

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