Traditional West Australian retailers will soon be disrupted at an unprecedented rate as the shift to online shopping ramps up.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA (CCI) Chief Economist Rick Newnham said WA’s brick and mortar retailers cannot be left to teeter on the brink when e-commerce giant Amazon hits our market.

“Amazon doesn’t have governments telling them to hit the off switch at 5pm, and neither should WA businesses,” Mr Newnham said.

“We know that Christmas shopping is forecast to inject about $100 million into WA’s retail sector this year, but if the domino effect of the United States is anything to go by, Amazon’s rise could soon disrupt this sugar hit to the WA economy for good.” 

A recent report by UBS estimated that earnings for Australia’s major listed retailers will fall as much as 20 per cent by 2023, with JB Hi-Fi, Myer and Super Retail Group expected to have the largest bite taken from their profit margins.

Australia Post and Star Track’s Inside Australian Online Shopping report also revealed that the growth in online spending significantly outperformed traditional retail spending, up 10.2 per cent compared to 3.3 per cent from 2015 to 2016, and that consumers are shopping online later in the day, with 29 per cent of purchases made between 7pm and 10pm.

“Despite the rise in online shopping inhibiting traditional retailers ability to compete, WA continues to have the most restrictive retail trading hours in the country,” Mr Newnham said.

“Without change to WA’s Retail Trading Hours Act, brick and mortar retailers simply have no chance – there’s only so long you can tread water before you sink.

“The rise of Amazon won’t just impact WA jobs and business investment – the State Government’s budget bottom line will also be hit with less businesses and workers paying tax. This means reforming WA’s outdated retail trade regulations is not just in the interest of every WA business, it’s also in the Government’s interest.

“CCI encourages the McGowan Government to heed the impact of Amazon on WA brick and mortar businesses and to immediately implement their review of the Retail Trading Hours Act, as outlined in the WA Labor state policy platform.”

Recent CCI polling has revealed that 71 per cent of West Australians back extending WA’s retail trading hours for all stores over the festive period, and nearly 60 per cent believe this should be for all stores, not just a select few.

Almost 80 per cent of respondents also believe the Act should be amended to allow all shops to be able to sell all types of products.

The Act currently restricts what shops can sell at certain times and what products different types of shops can sell. For example, the regulations allow some shops to sell light bulbs but not light fittings, outdoor lighting but not indoor lighting, kitchen sinks but not dishwashers. Online stores, including online stores based overseas, are not subject to the same restrictions.

“This debate has gone on for far too long and WA businesses can’t afford to wait. They need to have every tool at their disposal to not only stay afloat but to thrive,” Mr Newnham.

“CCI looks forward to continuing to work with the Government to reform WA’s outdated retail trade regulations to ensure brick and mortar retailers can continue to compete.”