Polling of 784 West Australians conducted by Patterson Research Group on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA (CCI) has revealed that 74 per cent of West Australians disagree with the State Government’s decision to reduce extended trading hours over the Christmas period.
Sixty-five per cent of West Australians believe people are more likely to shop online as a result of the Government’s decision, which hurts local retailers, and 91 per cent of these people support shops being allowed to open the usual extended hours over the Christmas period.
Overall, the majority of every demographic surveyed disagreed with the Government’s decision. This means the majority of male, female, regional, metro, young, old, with and without children, high and low income West Australians all want this decision reviewed.
Seventy-six per cent of younger West Australians believe the decision will boost online sales at the expense of local retailers.
The WA State Government’s refusal to keep up with the 21st century is pushing shoppers online and leaving traditional WA retailers to teeter on the brink – they are now clearly at odds with community expectations.
The retail trading hours debate is no longer about big versus small retailers – it’s now about local jobs in bricks and mortar retailers versus online stores. Small retailers benefit from larger retailers being open as it drives additional foot traffic to shopping districts instead of shopping online.
There has been a 27 per cent increase in share of Australian retail sales that were online in the year to September 2018 at the same time that the WA Government has reduced usual extended shopping over the Christmas period by 15 hours.
Last year the Government allowed an extra 49 hours of Christmas shopping from 5 December to 1 January, in line with a long standing bi-partisan precedent. The Government has approved just 34 hours this year and extended shopping will begin three days later – a reduction of 30 per cent compared to last year. An entire working week (Monday to Friday) of additional hours has also been withheld – restricted to usual shopping hours.
We don’t tell online stores to turn off their website, so we shouldn’t tell WA businesses to shut their doors. Local WA businesses expect to be able to compete with online shops, not have their hands tied behind their backs.
WA retail is vital to our economy, with over 120,000 employees who contribute over $8 billion to the State’s economic growth. Unemployment in the retail trade industry is the highest out of any industry across WA, with 7,700 West Australians looking for work in the industry.
CCI is calling on the State Government to immediately review their decision to restrict extended Christmas retail trading hours in light of these clear community expectations, and at the very least, extend it to the same trading hours and days that were approved last year, beginning on 5 December.