The Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA (CCI) has welcomed the State Government’s announcement that retail trading hours will be extended this festive period.

CCI recently wrote to the WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, which is responsible for assessing applications to vary the Retail Trading Act, to seek extended trading hours for general retail shops in the Perth metropolitan area during public holidays and the Christmas and New Year period.

CCI Chief Executive Officer Deidre Willmott said CCI has long called for WA’s restrictive trading hours to be modernised to give local businesses the ability to compete at their very best, and to decide when they want to open their doors.

“Today’s announcement is welcome news for consumers, who will have greater choice, flexibility and convenience, for business, who will benefit from the increased activity, and for workers, who will have the opportunity to earn more money during this peak business trading period,” Ms Willmott said.

“This is a significant win for WA businesses and consumers who have come to expect, and utilise, extended trading hours to help balance work and family commitments, increase employment opportunities, and create a more level playing field to compete.

“Extending retail trading hours will create additional hours for the 128,000 West Australians who say they are underemployed and want more work. It will also create additional jobs, many of which will be filled by young people which has an unemployment rate of 14.4 per cent in WA.   

“While CCI welcomes the State Government’s confirmation that they will extend retail trading hours for the festive season, in line with last year’s trading hours, unfortunately WA still has the most restrictive retail trading hours in the country.”

Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory all have totally, or almost totally, deregulated shopping hours.

“WA’s regulations are also simply ridiculous. They restrict 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 or outdoor lighting but not indoor lighting,” Ms Willmott said.

“CCI encourages the State Government to continue to review WA’s retail trade regulations and, at the very least, bring us in line with the rest of the country.

“This would significantly improve WA’s attractiveness as a tourism destination, encourage WA consumers to support local retailers who are trying to compete with online shops that don’t have governments telling them to hit the off switch at 5pm and will inject about $200 million into our state, according to estimates by the Productivity Commission.”

“The retail trade figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that WA’s retail sales are lagging, falling by 1.3 per cent, with total retail turnover also the lowest in two years, demonstrating the need to boost retail sales through extended trading hours.”