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South Australia gears up for referendum on retail trading hours

A historic referendum has been called in South Australia which could transform the way retail trading hours are calculated.

The reform package, which is set to be introduced by the South Australian State Government this week, will seek to give South Australians a say on whether large retailers can extend their trading hours to cater to changing consumer needs.

The referendum, which is likely to be held on March 19 next year, could bring SA in line with other state’s trading hour regimes, such as NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, the ACT and the Northern Territory.

Shopping Centre Council of Australia executive director Angus Nardi welcomed the potential referendum, stating it gives consumers a voice in the way retailers respond to their needs.

“We know that when trading hours are extended, it is met with strong retailer and consumer demand,” Nardi said.

“The referendum will clearly give power to the people to have their say. Extending trading hours have been enacted by the majority of states for many years, which has provided greater levels of employment opportunity and allowed customers to shop more flexibly in line with the demands of modern lifestyles.”

National Retail Association chief executive Dominique Lamb said the extension of trading hours will go a long way to help retailers that have been disadvantaged compared to their inter-state competitors, and will put “money back in the pockets” of local businesses.

“This is about retailer and consumer choice, and we hope that the debate is more than just supermarkets,” Lamb said.

“We know that many smaller retailers benefit when larger retailers can open and trade, particularly in shopping centre environments. Many retailers are frustrated with the rigid schedule made available to them by the current laws, which restrict their flexibility to respond to their customers’ needs.”

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