A typical West Australian retail worker will be at least $350 poorer at the end of the Christmas period because of the State Government’s decision to reduce usual extended shopping 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 McGowan Government has approved just 34 hours this year and extended shopping will begin three days later. An entire working week (Monday to Friday) of additional hours has also been withheld – restricted to usual shopping hours.

CCI wage calculations have identified that a typical retail worker who could have worked the additional 15 hours would be between $350 and $372 worse off.

The average West Australian spends $646 a year on Christmas gifts[1], so some retail workers would have to cut back more than half of their Christmas spending to be no worse off as a result of the Government’s decision. 

WA’s retail trade industry is vital to the economy, with over 120,000 employees who contribute over $8 billion to the State’s economic growth. The additional casual roles that are put on over the Christmas period are often taken up by young people – of which there are currently over 32,000 unemployed in WA.

This decision is completely out of step with the Government’s jobs agenda. At a time when the Government is focussed on job creation and trying to make WA a global tourism hotspot, this decision only puts us further behind and is out of touch with 21st century consumers and workers.

Unemployment is at 6.0 per cent in WA, compared to 5.0 per cent nationally. More than 236,000 West Australians are either unemployed or underemployed and would benefit from additional retail trading hours over the Christmas period.

You only have to look at the Government’s efforts on tourism to witness the contradiction. Why spend taxpayer’s money investing in non-stop flights to Perth, city precincts such as Yagan Square or marketing our State to the world if we aren’t going to create a vibrant city that meets the expectations of tourists whose norm is being able to shop day and night?

Workers should be able to benefit from increased retail trading over Christmas, not lose up to $372 because of an outdated Government decision. Business owners should decide when they open for business, not the Government, and consumers should be able to access stores when they want to, not when the government dictates.

CCI is calling on the McGowan Government to put workers first by immediately reviewing their decision to restrict Christmas extended retail trading hours, and at the very least, extend it to the same trading hours and days that were approved last year, beginning on 5 December.

[1] Commonwealth Bank XMAS Spending Survey 2016