The National Retail Association (NRA) and Shopping Centre Council of Australia (SCCA) welcomed the announcement of a historic referendum that could pave the way for long awaited retail trading hours reform in South Australia.

The reform package to be introduced by the South Australian State Government ultimately seeks to give power to the people to decide retail open and closing hours to allow for greater flexibility and choice in shopping times and open more employment opportunities for South Australians. Analyses highlight that extended trading hours, such as extended Sunday or public holiday trading, is met with strong consumer demand.

SCCA Executive Director Angus Nardi said the announcement of a referendum gives a clear voice to consumers on an overdue reform. “We know that when trading hours are extended, it is met with strong retailer and consumer demand. The referendum will clearly give power to the people to have their say,” said Mr Nardi.

“We look forward to engaging with the Government and other stakeholders on this issue, and correcting a lot of misleading information that surfaced when the Bill was considered in 2018.

“Extended trading hours have been enacted in the majority of states for many years, which has provided greater levels of employment opportunity and allowed consumers to shop more flexibly in line with the demands of modern lifestyles.”

NRA Chief Executive Dominique Lamb said the extension of trading hours was long overdue in South Australia, and many retailers had been at a disadvantage as a result. “This is about retailer and consumer choice, and we hope that the debate is more than just supermarkets”, said Ms Lamb.

“We know that many small retailers benefit when larger retailers can open and trade, particularly in shopping centre environments.

“Many retailers are frustrated with the rigid schedule made available to them by the current laws, which restricts their flexibility to respond to their customers’ needs.

“The enactment of the extended trading hours will put money back into the pockets of local businesses, increase employment of students and part-time workers and enliven shopping precincts as social areas.”

The NRA and SCCA are excited for this reform to take place to help the South Australian economy recover. Retailers are finally given the opportunity to make more sales during extended hours, and consumers will have more flexibility in the way they shop. The South Australian Government is set to introduce the Bill to State Parliament this week, seeking Parliament’s approval to put the referendum to electors on March 19 next year.