Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day are public holidays throughout Australia, as well as certain hours on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve in the Northern Territory and South Australia.
Depending on the size and type of business and where it’s located, certain retailers will be able trade on these days and others will not. Retailers that remain open, however, will be required to pay staff public holiday penalty rates.
The National Retail Association has provided a comprehensive overview of trading hours for Christmas 2019 and New Year 2020. Here is a quick overview.
Wednesday, December 25, Thursday, December 26, and Wednesday, January 1, are public holidays in Victoria, as they are in every state and territory in Australia. Christmas Day is also a restricted day, which means only exempt businesses may trade. To be exempt, a retailer must have 20 or fewer persons employed in the shop at any time during the restricted day and have no more than 100 persons employed by the business and its related entities during the seven days immediately before the restricted trading day.
In addition, chemists, petrol shops, restaurants, cafes, takeaway outlets, service providers and hire outlets can trade on any day they wish, including restricted days.
Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day are public holidays in New South Wales, as they are in Victoria and elsewhere in the country, and Christmas Day and Boxing Day are considered restricted days in NSW.
Small businesses and certain businesses, such as chemists, fruit and veg shops and others, are exempt from restricted trading and may choose to trade. In addition, after a trial, the government last year decided to allow all shops to trade on Boxing Day provided employees freely elect to work.
The same public holidays apply in the Australian Capital Territory, though trading hours here are deregulated, which means shops can generally choose whether to trade on a public holiday – and pay staff the appropriate wages – or not. Most shops are closed on Christmas Day.
While Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day are all considered public holidays in Queensland, only Christmas Day is considered a “closed day”, when large retailers and non-exempt shops are not allowed to trade.
A broad range of businesses are exempt from this restriction, including art galleries, camping equipment shops, florists, hairdressers and many others. In addition, independent retail shops, which may employ no more than 30 people in the shop at any time, and no more than 100 people in shops throughout Queensland, are exempt.
The same public holidays apply in Western Australia, but depending on the location of the shop, some retailers may be restricted from trading on public holidays.
North of the 26th parallel (Shark Bay region), trading hours are not regulated and there are no restrictions. South of the 26th parallel, excluding Perth, general retail shops are not permitted to trade on public holidays.
In the Perth metropolitan area, businesses may trade from 7am-9pm on December 23-24, and 8am-6pm on December 26 and January 1. Shops are closed on Christmas Day.
The same public holidays and general restrictions and exemptions apply in Tasmania, where major retailers and large franchise groups may not trade on Christmas Day.
Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve from 7pm-midnight are considered public holidays in the Northern Territory, on top of Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, which means retailers that are open will need to pay staff public holiday penalty rates on those days.
Shop trading hours here are largely deregulated, except for the sale of liquor products, but stores are still generally closed on Christmas Day.
Retail trading hours on the public holidays in South Australia depend on the location and type of business. Shops outside the Greater Adelaide Shopping District – which includes the CBD tourist precinct, metropolitan shopping district and Glenelg tourist precinct – and outside one of the state’s 35 Proclaimed Shopping Districts are exempt and have no trading restrictions, including on all public holidays.
Shops in the Greater Adelaide Shopping District or one of the proclaimed shopping districts must remain closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. Shops in the CBD must remain closed on Christmas Day only, and shops that are exempt or are located in regional districts where trading hours have been deregulated are unrestricted.