Struggling retail sector would benefit from longer trading hours – National Retail Association bid deserves to win

The National Retail Association bid for extended trading hours deserves support because it would be good for consumers and may provide a boost to a struggling retail sector (see my post from earlier this month: Economic weakness hits Queensland retailers). Today’s Courier-Mail reports:

The National Retail Association will today launch a legal bid to overhaul trading hours across the southeast, allowing stores from Coolangatta to Noosa to open from 7am to 9pm, Monday to Saturday.

The proposal, which covers Brisbane, Ipswich, Logan and the Gold and Sunshine coasts, is a fresh push to clarify Queensland’s garbled trading-hours regime, which costs the state more than $100 million in revenue and leaves shoppers stranded outside supermarkets every Saturday.

As I’ve noted before, the huge crowd at the Baroona Rd, Milton IGA every Saturday night around 6pm, after nearby Coles’ and Woolworths’ stores have closed, suggests there is a large demand for extended trading hours at supermarkets. While IGA does a reasonable job, its product range is much smaller than that of Coles and Woolworths, meaning consumers won’t get the maximum benefits from their shopping dollars.

It’s about time we end Queensland’s archaic trading hours restrictions, particular given that traditional justifications for restrictions appear less relevant in today’s economy and society. For example, see my posts:

Traditional small business lobby much smaller than it once was – should make trading hours deregulation easier

24 hour retail trading inevitable and desirable

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5 Responses to Struggling retail sector would benefit from longer trading hours – National Retail Association bid deserves to win

  1. Katrina Drake says:

    I’m a big IGA Baroona Road shopper, especially on Friday night at 6pm. The reason I shop there has nothing to do with opening/closing times, as my local Coles & Woolworths are open to 9pm each night. While the IGA general grocery line is somewhat limited compared to C & W , IGA have far better delicacy lines – boutique salad dressing, exotic cheeses, dips are garnishes and crisps, just the type of specialty you buy on a Friday night for entertaining or a party.

    Also the parking at IGA is great for just ‘ducking’ in – the old strip shopping centre where you can park 2m from the entry has a lot going for it – and it has everything giftshop, bottleshop, fruit, fish, gym, coffee, bread, tab and lotto, great kebabs, all small specialist retailers, small but great quality.

    The IGA and speciality shops always have exactly what you want , when you want,

    Now Myer and David Jones are a different story all together, I was in Myers this week, with a list of things to buy and a big credit card limit – I came out empty handed as usually. I thought the stores were closed, as they were bulging with goods, but I am sure I was the only one in the store – no shoppers and no sales assistants. I would love to take Mr Bernie Brooks shopping one day – and show him why it is almost impossible to purchase anything in the big retailers – no one is there to sell, sell, sell. It is just to hard!

    Honestly, you get far better helpfully sales service at Vinnies. Check the stats on that … I bet that is where the sales are going, and the op shops probably don’t count as retail but charity.

    • Gene Tunny says:

      Good point about Myer and DJs not making an effort to sell. Disagree about IGA obviously. I’d like to run a survey of IGA shoppers on Saturday evenings regarding whether they’d rather be at Coles or Woolies. You’d have a high percentage who would I’m sure. Thanks for the comment, Katrina.

  2. Jim says:

    I really cannot see how the garbled trading hours for supermarkets in Queensland is costing the supermarket sector $100 million in lost revenue. Is the National Retailers Association really arguing that if Woolies and Coles are closed, a rational consumer would then decide to substitute a night at the movies (or other non-substitute) for the weekly groceries because they have a burning desire to spend their money right then? Their reasoning sounds like economic bollocks to me.

    If you look at the trading hours for supermarkets in jurisdictions with less stringent regulations, often the hours are not that much longer. I remember being an economist in the NT Treasury about 15 years ago when supermarket trading hours were deregulated (no restrictions). After some initial excitement by Coles and Woolies, stores were opened 24 hours. The economists in Treasury were very smug. Within months, sanity (and a focus on profitability) finally prevailed. And the result? Stores in the NT are now open 1 hour later than in Queensland on weekdays, and a couple of extra hours on weekends.

    Hours are generally longer in less regulated markets, but there is significant variance depending on location. This probably indicates Woolies and Coles matching opening times within sales catchments rather than maximising profitability (a bit like the domestic airline capacity war, but slightly less stupid).

    • Gene Tunny says:

      Yes, I agree the $100 million seems a bit high, but I’d like to see whatever report they’re basing it on before dismissing it. Interesting info about the NT situation. Thanks Jim.

  3. Andrew says:

    Please let common sense prevail for once and let people have enough time to get to the shops before they close, if not i guess i will continue to not spend my money as I don’t want to go shopping first thing Saturday morning especially after working hard all week I need time to relax or do other stuff first

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