Good and bad news with reform of retail trading hours
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIQ) is encouraged by the prospect of jobs created by retail trading hours reform, but is still concerned about the impact of the majors’ market dominance over small businesses.
CCIQ State Manager of Advocacy Kate Whittle said small business had wanted continued regulation of shop trading hours in Queensland, but supported the cutting of red tape and the confusion that currently exists, particularly in the southeast corner.
“We acknowledge that shop trading hours had long been a divisive issue,” she said.
“We believe well-targeted reform will improve regulation of trading hours to better meet the interests of small businesses. We also welcome the expected economic benefit and increase in jobs.”
But Ms Whittle said the state’s 410,000 small businesses were concerned about the monopoly of major corporate organisations and their dominance of the home hardware market, and how the new hours would benefit them.
”CCIQ has strongly opposed the full deregulation of trading hours. It remains a much-needed tool to support small business competitiveness,” she said.
“The unknown of today’s announcement is how it will impact small retailers that are in direct competition with the majors, who will get a “dialling-down” in trading hours exemptions.
“The majors already have huge control on the hardware sector, often selling goods at a retail price that is below what most independents can get at wholesale.
“CCIQ remains concerned for smaller retailers who will lose one of their last remaining competitive advantages – being able to operate at times when the big guys can’t.”
Ms Whittle said the changes bring Queensland in line with other states, with the “patchwork” of trading boundaries creating serious administrative costs for businesses that have operations across multiple jurisdictions. It also addresses changing social expectations and shopping trends, which reflect a modern economy.
“It will certainly make things simple for retailers, while increasing consumer spending, and extra jobs as the larger retailers fill new roster positions based on extended trading hours.
“However, Queensland’s shop trading laws were designed to protect small business and assist them when competing against major retailers. We hope this does not change in the future.”
Ms Whittle said a simplification of the previous system of complex boundaries will be beneficial long-term. It would remove the anomaly of many different opening and closing times for different retailers in the same area.
“Our analysis of SEQ harmonisation and net benefit to the economy was approximately $100 million and 1000 additional jobs across the Gold Coast, Logan, Brisbane, Moreton Bay and the Sunshine Coast.
“More than two-thirds (about 70.1 per cent) of all retail activity/spend is in South-East Queensland.”