The Queensland Industrial Relations Commission has handed down a landmark ruling that will allow retailers in Queensland’s south-east to trade from 7am to 9pm, Monday to Saturday.
The National Retail Association (NRA) has welcomed the decision, which they say will generate in excess of $100 million for Queensland’s economy and drive the creation of around 1000 new jobs.
“This is a great day for Queensland retail businesses, large and small, a great day for the people who work in those businesses, and a great day for busy consumers,” NRA chief executive officer Dominique Lamb said.
“We thank the Commission for hearing our arguments in favour of modernising trading hours for the south-east corner, and creating a more consistent and less-confusing regime.”
The NRA’s application to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) called for major stores to be allowed to trade from 7am to 9pm, Monday, to Saturday, but did not call for changes to Sunday and public holiday trading hours.
The application has been granted in full by the Full Bench of the QIRC.
Ms Lamb called the ruling a victory for consumers, workers and retailers.
“As we’ve said all along, the 5pm close on Saturdays is an old rule that has not been reviewed in 20 years,” she said.
“The world has changed a lot in that time, and we believe the shopping habits of residents in this large metropolitan region have moved on.”
While the NRA’s application was restricted to Queensland’s south-east, Ms Lamb said the State Government will now use the ruling as a guide for its review of trading hours for the entire state, including Sundays and public holidays.
Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace confirmed the Government’s review, which is expected to be handed down by Christmas, will take the ruling into account.
“It will also consider any other relevant matters, including the impact on workers and small business,” Ms Grace said.
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) has slammed the ruling, and criticised the QIRC for abandoning small businesses.
“CCIQ is very disappointed with this decision as it fails small businesses and community based supermarkets in Queensland,” said CCIQ’s director of advocacy Nick Behrens.
“Small businesses and community based supermarkets previously enjoyed a narrow window of opportunity, being able to trade 7am to 8am Monday to Saturday and 5pm to 9pm Saturday when Coles and Woolworths could not. This small but vital advantage has now been taken away.
“By gaining the extra hours of trading the already uneven playing field has been further tilted in favour of the big end of town.”
CCIQ has called for similar decisions to be taken out of QIRC’s hands in future.
“CCIQ’s firm position is that the QIRC should no longer have responsibility for determining trading hours as in reality they are a servant of corporate Australia,” Mr Behrens said.
“This decision essentially creates a battle ground around the table of the State Government’s Shop Trading Hours Review Reference Group.
“CCIQ will be siding with small businesses and community-based supermarkets who have the unenviable task of competing against Coles and Woolworths.
“It’s a David and Goliath battle and David has just had his slingshot taken off him.”
Major retailers and supermarkets in south-east Queensland will be able to extend their trading hours from December.
Are you happy that major retailers and supermarkets will be able to stay open longer, or would you prefer the trading hours had remained the same? Have your say in the comments below!