Retail report stirs controversy


OpenThis week marks two years since Sunday trade was introduced in Western Australia, but the extent of the legislation’s success is still stirring debate among retailers and lobby groups alike.

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In 2010, the state government made substantial changes to retail trading hours in Perth, extending weekday trade until 9pm. Two years later in August 2012, it introduced Sunday trade from 11am until 5pm.

At the time, the majors embraced the legislation, however, it was a different story for smaller merchants concerned with issues such as staffing and penalty rates, and it seems two years on retailers are still divided.

The Shopping Centre Council of Australia (SSCA) says the 2012 introduction of Sunday trade has proved successful, so much so the council is now lobbying for further deregulation of opening hours on a Sunday.

Angus Nardi, executive director, SCCA, told Inside Retail PREMIUM the uptake of Sunday trade from specialty retailers in WA has been strongest in comparison to other cities, such as Adelaide and Brisbane.

“The take up from specialty retailers has been really strong, probably around 80 to 90 per cent across our member portfolio,” Nardi said.

Following on from its success, the SCCA is seeking to bring forward Sunday trading hours from 11am to 9am, with Nardi saying the idea is strongly supported by local retailers.

“The government is currently considering further reform of trading hours.

“It’s not something that has been committed to by the government, but we would certainly like to see that locked in within the next year or two.”

Differing claims

In contrast to the SCCA beliefs on the success of the uptake of trade and foot traffic in centres on Sundays, John Cummings, president of the WA Independent Grocers Association, disagrees and claims there has

been little to no growth for retailers who have opted to open their doors on Sunday.

“Sunday trading is here to stay, that’s a given, but there has been basically no growth brought about through extra hours,” Cummings said.

“The CCI (Chamber of Commerce and Industry) claims it has been a tremendous success, but I don’t know how they got to that.”

Cummings is petitioning for Sunday hours to remain as they are, claiming an extension will hurt retailers, with some reportedly yet to turn a profit since the 2012 legislation was introduced.

Inside Retail Premium

“We think the trading hours at the moment have got it right and we don’t think there is any need to deregulate trading hours or introduce more hours. We think it should just be left alone for a while.”

Last month the WA Independent Grocers Association commissioned a study to investigate the impact on a range of small retailers, excluding IGA stores, in Perth, Bunbury, Mandurah, and Northam, and found

contrasting results.

The study, which surveyed more than 150 independent merchants from a range of sectors including pharmacy, clothing, specialty, grocery, and luxury, found 60 per cent of retailers said their profits had declined, while 33 per cent said they had not changed at all.

Nearly half reported a decrease in sales, while almost 40 per cent said that sales had stagnated. The report also found only five per cent claimed profits rose, and of the 20 per cent of retailers which opened their doors on Sundays, two thirds suffered a fall in profits.

Inside Retail Premium

Almost four in 10 saw a fall in customer numbers, while one in three reported a drop in weekly sales.

“Small businesses are all complaining that their costs have gone up while their income has stayed the same.”

Sixty five per cent of retailers surveyed said that any further extensions to retail trading hours, incremental or total deregulation, would harm their businesses.

“Electricity costs to small business retailers have gone up a minimum of 35 per cent, and in some instances up to 60 per cent in the last two to three years. Costs are going up and turnover just remains the same.

“A lot of the larger retailers over here are  really whinging about the penalty rates they have to pay. If it was overly profitable, why would they whinge?”

SSCA’s Nardi says the success of trading hours should be viewed from the customer’s point of view.

“In that respect Sunday trade has been a huge success in WA.”


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