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Trading hours divide retailers

 

1398762_12237865The Independent Retailers Organisation says Western Australian retailers will have to make additional sales of between $20,000 and $30,000 per week to cover the extra costs of running their businesses, following the extension of Christmas trading hours by the State Government.

The extended trading hours, which begin on December 5, include an earlier 8am opening on Sundays and later 6pm closing on Saturdays and Sundays.

Shopping hours for Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, and Australia Day have also be extended from 8am to 6pm, but general retail shops will remain closed on Christmas Day.

According to the WA-based lobby group, “the State Government’s refusal to consult before announcing retailers had wedged small business owners between a rock and a hard place”.

Independent Retailers Organisation spokesperson, Bob Stanton, said many independent owners were now faced with either closing their doors early and losing sales to large national retailers, or working the extra hours themselves.

When announcing the extension earlier this week, WA commerce minister, Michael Mischin, said it was not compulsory for any business to trade during the new hours. 

“It gives retail businesses greater freedom of choice and the ability to better cater for the demands of their customers who may want to shop earlier in the morning or later in the evening,” Mischin said.

The WA commerce minister added that Christmas trading was consistent with the State Government’s policy of testing the gradual and incremental easing of retail trading restrictions. 

Stanton says, however, that although there is natural increase in sales in the lead up to Christmas, keeping doors open for all of the available hours would require between $80,000 and $120,000 of extra sales during the month.

“It’s nothing like a level playing field when it comes to costs encountered by large and small retailers,” said Stanton.

“Small retailers, particularly those in the non grocery sector, face considerably higher wage and penalty rates, added to which are utility, rent, security, and clean charges.”

Stanton said the extra 53 trading hours in the month amounted to about $2500 in additional wages for a small retail business with three employees, adding that using a target margin of 12 per cent the retailer would need to achieve additional sales of about $20,000 and in some instances up to $30,000 per week.

“There’s a limit to how much money people will spend, even at Christmas, and we are certainly not banking on a strong Christmas this year.”

Stanton said the Chamber of Commerce and Industry deserved strong criticism for demanding even more trading hours than those granted by the government, describing  the CCIWA’s proposal as a grab for extra profits on behalf of the major retail chains at the expense of WA-owned small businesses.

“Extra trading hours are not necessary in the first or second week of December and most definitely throughout January. The national grocery, variety, and department store owners support the move because they know they will pick up business at the expense of small retailers.”

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