SA extends Boxing Day trading in suburbs
The South Australian government has moved to allow suburban Adelaide stores to trade on Boxing Day, in defiance of a vote in state parliament to block its attempts to deregulate trading hours.
Treasurer Rob Lucas has granted a special exemption for suburban shops to trade on the public holiday and for city shops to open longer, in response to what he says is the strong demand from retailers and consumers.
Under current laws only shops in Adelaide’s CBD can trade on public holidays, with the exception of certain smaller stores.
His move comes after the Labor opposition and crossbench MPs recently voted down the government’s bid to free up trading hours as a key promise the Liberals took to the March state election.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for South Australian retailers and consumers who, for far too long, have been crying out for extended trading on Boxing Day beyond the CBD,” Lucas said on Sunday.
“We know the Christmas period is one of the biggest and busiest for retailers and the interstate experience tells us trading on Boxing Day can generate significant additional sales, while creating valuable employment opportunities for those staff who’d like to work.”
But Independent Retailers said small businesses were dismayed at the government’s “back-door” plan for trading on Boxing Day, accusing the treasurer of using ministerial exemptions to “circumvent the parliament”.
IGA supermarket owner Greg Woods, who is allowed to trade on public holidays because of the size of his store, said he would close on Boxing Day if all the major shopping centres were allowed to trade.
Independent Retailers chief executive Colin Shearing said the Liberal government had lost touch with small business in SA.
“This is just a free kick to big interstate and overseas chains like Coles, Woolworths and the major shopping centres,” he said.
Lucas said all businesses could make their own choice on whether or not to open on Boxing Day and no employees would be forced to work.
“If a retail worker wants to take time off on the public holiday then there’s nothing stopping them,” he said.
“But not everyone wants to sit on the couch and watch the Boxing Day Test whilst eating leftover pudding. There will be many people who will see this as a great opportunity to earn some extra wages.”