Consumers are the driving force behind all retail business.
They shop around their lives, not the other way around, so we need to be able to offer them choice, convenience and value. If we don’t, they’ll simply find someone else who does.
We are the forefront of digital disruption, and trading hours reform has been a critical component in our drive toward adaptation, innovation and consumer-centric business models, right across Australia.
However, trading hours are governed by the states, which can at times heavily influence retailers’ capacity to operate within a consumer-centric model.
In less regulated states like New South Wales and Victoria for example, Sunday trading has rapidly become the most popular trading day of the week.
The consumers have spoken, and our members have been enabled to respond accordingly. It means more shifts for the hundreds of thousands of retail workers in those regions – a great many of whom are aged 15 – 24, and are desperate for shifts that work in with their own busy education and social schedules!
So it stands to reason we were utterly baffled by, and full of condemnation for, the Queensland Opposition’s determination last week to block sensible and modernised reforms that would enable the state’s retailers to take the first step toward reduced red tape and a less regulated environment, bringing it more into line with New South Wales’ and Victoria’s legislation.
Although the Queensland Government’s proposed legislation didn’t take on all the reforms proposed by the Mickel review, it would have been a sensible step toward simplified measures for businesses, in turn making it easier for thousands more to open their doors, better service their customers, and create more shifts for staff.
It’s ludicrous that the LNP would block reforms applying to laws introduced in 1990 that govern an industry that’s been turned on its head by technology (and can we just appreciate the irony that this was the same year the internet was invented?).
Can we also appreciate the irony that this reform was also being blocked on the same day that mega UK fashion retailer Topshop’s Australian arm went into administration?
The retail industry is moving at a lightning pace across the world, and while some states are moving with the times, Queensland retailers are still being hamstrung by the Opposition’s commitment to one of the most complex trading hours systems in the nation – with pages and pages of legislation that is more than 30 years old.
It’s high-time these decision-makers abandoned archaic, outdated and false rhetoric about an industry that bears little or no resemblance to its old model.
The Federal Productivity Commission has repeatedly criticised Queensland’s outdated and out of touch trading hours as a hand brake on productivity and job creation, and has called for them to be abolished. The proposed reforms were a significantly watered down version of these calls, but could have been the first step in the right direction.
The only positive is that the Labor Government decided at the eleventh hour to postpone the vote for another month, after encountering such opposition, and we are committed to taking this further.
There are people making critical decisions about our industry who don’t seem to fathom just how greatly it, and society, has changed, and we will continue our advocacy work to educate decision-makers on the realities, to help shape fair and sensible policy across the country.
As the nation’s largest and most diverse retail organisation, we’d also like to hear your views on this so please keep in touch with us on 1800 RETAIL.