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Trading hour change stalled

DESPITE a report recommending shops be allowed to remain open from 6:00am to 9:00pm, with a total deregulation of shopping hours in five years time, it is unlikely trading hours will change.

Fair Trading Minister Doug Shave has recently received the retail trading hours legislative review committee report but it appears there is little backbencher support for trading hours to change.

WA Retailers Association head Nick Catania, who was involved with the committee, said deregulating trading hours would be devastating for small shops.

“We found in the report that WA has 9.1 retailers per 1,000 people. In the eastern states they have 8.1 retailers per 1,000 people,” Mr Catania said. “If trading hours are extended, a lot of small shops will die.

“Household surveys have found people only shopped for two hours a week so why extend trading hours?”

A 1998 survey by Ibecon found extending trading hours would increase the market share held by major grocery chains from 60 per cent to 64 per cent while small traders would lose 10 per cent of their current sales – more than $500 million.

It also predicted there would be a net loss of 3,000 jobs in Perth.

“We have to put some weight on the social consequences of businesses closing,” Mr Catania said.

“In turn these will bring about adverse economic effects.”

A Perth City Council-driven survey found the majority of small retailers felt there would be an increase in stress levels, hours of work and their wages’ bills if trading hours were deregulated.

They also felt their leisure time with family, profitability and the overall health of their business would decrease.

Victorian University Small Business Research Unit studies into pre and post trading hours deregulation in 1996 and 1997 found retailer projection in 1996 underestimated the negative impact of deregulated trading hours.

Small Business Development Corporation managing director George Etrelezis said extending weeknight trading hours to 7:00pm was more realistic.

“Opening until 9:00pm is too excessive. It will give big businesses a greater slice of market share,” Mr Etrelezis said.

“Certainly 9:00pm closing will be the death knell of ‘8:00am to 8:00pm’ convenience stores.”

Mr Etrelezis said the retail trading hours legislative review committee would be “pulling the rug out from under small businesses” if it moved to fully deregulate the industry in five years.

“Deregulation of Sunday trading would be disastrous for small businesses that need extra weekend hours to keep their doors open,” he said.

“Decision makers must realise shop-around-the-clock in the Perth market will spell disaster for small business.”

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