13/12/2011 - 11:49

Reports call for deregulated trading hours

13/12/2011 - 11:49


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Reports call for deregulated trading hours

A University of Western Australia report has found trading hours in WA should be fully deregulated, adding to a recent Productivity Commission report that also advocated deregulation.

Undertaken by the Law Faculty’s Consumer Research Unit assistant professor Tracey Atkins, the report analysed previous research on shop trading hours, the historical and current regulation of shop trading hours in Western Australia and the way in which shop trading hours are regulated in other Australian jurisdictions.

Professor Atkins said the report concluded the long-term consumer interest was best served by the deregulation of shop trading hours.

“Consumers show a clear preference for the ability to shop outside of those hours historically allowed by government regulation,” she said.

“In each jurisdiction that has undertaken shop trading hours reform, roughly equally divided consumer sentiment for deregulation pre-reform changes to overwhelming support post-reform.

“In a deregulated environment, consumers are free to choose when and where to shop, businesses are free to choose when to open, how to operate and what to sell, workers have enhanced freedom to work in a way that suits modern lifestyles and people are free to attend church, play Sunday sport or shop – it is their choice.”

The UWA report follows a Productivity Commission report released on Friday which called for full deregulation of retail trading in all states, including on public holidays.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA chief executive James Pearson backed the Commission's push for deregulation, saying WA’s out-of-date laws are hurting consumers and business.

“The report is further proof that there remains no good reason for WA politicians to stand in the way of late night and Sunday trading throughout the Perth metropolitan area,” he said in a statement.

Western Australia is currently one of the most restrictive states when it comes to trading hours.

The Commission's report examined a variety of factors and gave many recommendations, including addressing the topic of the low value threshold exemption for GST, the increasing trend towards online shopping, and the restrictions on trading hours.

While these restrictions benefit small businesses - for example, allowing them to trade unhindered by competition from larger retailers - the report found regulation brings many costs to both consumers and retailers.

“Boundary anomalies”, where some states have established geographic shopping districts or regional trading precincts, are also costly to the community and are distorting retail markets, according to the report. However, one of the largest costs is to retailers who are prevented from trading to their preferred extent.

Mr Pearson’s statement notes that the Commission's report says full deregulation will increase consumer welfare benefits with greater convenience and product choice, allow greater competition between retailers, create a less artificially distorted retail industry, and potentially lower retail prices and high retail employment.

The report also highlighted the need for retailers in today's increasingly globalised retail trading environment to have more flexibility in responding to the continuously changing tastes and preferences of their consumers.


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