Stockland Shopping Centre in Gladstone.
Stockland Shopping Centre in Gladstone. Chrissy Harris

Deal in pipeline over push for extended shopping hours

RETAILERS may strike a deal in the metropolitan south-east in return for easing the push for extended shopping hours in regional areas such as Gladstone.

The United Retail Federation on Monday revealed it would offer support for less restricted trading hours in south-east Queensland, reversing its long-term opposition to deregulation.

In return, it plans to push for legal changes to stop major retail chains making constant applications for extended opening hours in regional areas.

"What happens is trading hours across the state are decided by the industrial trading commission, and anybody with an interest can bring a case on trading hours to the commission," federation general manager Bruce Mills said.

"(Larger retailers) have been pushing, obviously, for unrestricted hours right across the state and we have been fighting back."

In southern states, supermarkets open from 6am until midnight, even in smaller regional towns.

Gladstone may be up for a trading hours case this year.

"We know there's eight to 12 of them to be lodged. Obviously the south-east is going to be one of those, but we expect the others to be major coastal towns," Mr Mills said.

"Until they let us know we never know, but I assume (Gladstone) would be a target."

Discussions were planned and Mr Mills said he wanted everything "on the table".

"If this works the worst outcome we can get out of this is the fact we might get this moratorium for small retailers in regional areas," he said.

"But I think we can actually achieve more than that.

"The Premier said he's open to listen, which is very encouraging.

"We want to get the large retailers the small retailers and the three levels of government around the table, and look at just not trading in hours.

"We put out the olive branch to start this but we want to look at what all the options are."

David Taaffe, owner of David's Musical Centre, Tank St, Gladstone, does not want to compete with big companies over extended trading hours.
David Taaffe, owner of David's Musical Centre, Tank St, Gladstone, does not want to compete with big companies over extended trading hours. Tom Huntley

Extended trading hours too much for small retailers

DAVID Taaffe has been doing business in Gladstone for 48 years.

The owner of David's Musical Centre is a member of the Gladstone Chamber of Commerce and Industry and is against the idea of extended trading hours.

"The big companies … are taking most of our business away from us already, let alone having more time," he said.

"Of course, us small business people would like to compete and like to open up our businesses.

"But number one we don't have the staff, and number two, we can't work seven days a week."

Mr Taaffe said the importance of small businesses was the service they offered.

"Most people would know, they look at buying a big ticket item and they talk to a salesperson, and then they go home thinking about it, go back two days later, that person is not here anymore. He's off today.

"They're not giving the service and telling people how these things do it, and the smaller business person is spending a lot more time with their customer, but they're not getting the results from it."

Big companies and trading hours are not the only problem small businesses face.

They're ridiculous shifts. They're working something like early in the morning before our business even opens, and when we close, they're still working.

"There's the online problem going on in Australia as well that's knocking us all about. And it's one of the reasons that these big multinationals want to open up anyhow," Mr Taaffe said.

"So we can't compete again us small business people. That's why they're trying to do it. They're doing it under different ways to get around it."

Gladstone has a strong shift-work industry but Mr Taaffe doesn't believe changing opening hours would help.

"They're ridiculous shifts. They're working something like early in the morning before our business even opens, and when we close, they're still working," he said.

"And by the time they've done their 14 hours of work, a lot of them are not in the mood for going out shopping anywhere. Well that's what we're finding anyway, because they tell us that.

"We get phone calls from these people, we need such and such, are you open, which we aren't.

"What we say to them, is one of your friends coming over (from the island). Have they got hours off? Send the money with them. And that is working very good for us."

United Retail Federation

  • Peak national industry body in Australia representing small business retail stores.
  • Founded more than 120 years ago in Brisbane.
  • Main focus is lobbying local, state and federal governments on policies best suited to members.

Do you support the introduction of extended trading hours in Gladstone?

This poll ended on 17 February 2013.

Current Results

Definitely. It's way past time.

36%

Yes, but only for supermarkets and bigger chain stores.

16%

No. The shops are open enough already.

48%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.