Trading hours – pursuing fairer trading

A host of outdated trading hour restrictions exist in Australia – most notably in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. These restrictions often illogically discriminate between retailers on the basis of size, location, or products sold, allowing some stores to trade when others cannot.

These regulations restrict competition and therefore consumers’ choice on what can be peak shopping periods – like on Boxing Day, for example.

Retail figures also show that up to 20 per cent of weekly trading volume occurs on a Sunday – when it is permitted. Some States regulate trading on each and every Sunday, which prevents all retailers from being able to open. This often results in consumers paying higher prices at those retailers that are able to trade. ANRA therefore believes that deregulating Sunday trading will bring benefits to all consumers.

In late 2011 the Productivity Commission recommended that retail trading hours be fully deregulated in all states (including on public holidays) as part of its inquiry into the Economic Structure and Performance of the Australian Retail Industry. The Productivity Commission noted that ‘When given the freedom to do so, consumers actually shift their shopping patterns towards the deregulated trading hours’.

ANRA supports the complete deregulation of trading hours as a long term objective for the sector. This reflects the changing nature of the sector; with many Australian shoppers embracing online channels (that are not subject to these laws). However, ANRA also recognises that community expectations may not be ready for completely deregulated trading across the country.

ANRA supports the removal of trading restrictions to allow all shops to have the option of trading 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with the exception of Christmas Day, Good Friday and the morning of Anzac Day. This would allow retailers to set their own opening hours in response to business and consumer needs, while also providing greater choice for shoppers.

This sensible approach has been adopted in Victoria and Tasmania and was ANRA’s position in its submission to the review of the Retail Trading Act 2008 in NSW in the later stages of 2011. Trading hours are not regulated in the Australian Capital Territory or Northern Territory, but retailers typically choose to stay closed on these days in response to consumer demand.