Warning on extended Sunday trade

Toby HusseyAlbany Advertiser
The Albany Chamber of Commerce and Industry is Albany’s major business group.
Camera IconThe Albany Chamber of Commerce and Industry is Albany’s major business group.

Albany’s major business group does not expect deregulating Sunday trading would be the silver bullet for local struggling businesses, warning major retailers could dominate if allowed to open seven days.

That was the claim of Albany Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Benita Cattalini, whose organisation is investigating the potential impact of deregulated trading on businesses.

“There are many pros and cons to deregulated trading . . . (but) it is not the only factor affecting retail,” she said.

“Deregulation would have a different impact on different sectors of the business community.

“It isn’t an easy decision — it is an important one.”

Prohibitions on major businesses operating on Sunday are a source of contention in Albany, with major retailers such as Kmart, Coles and Woolworths unable to open from 5pm Saturday until Monday morning for much of the year.

Meanwhile, small retailers can open every day — with many permitted to operate 24 hours.

The regulations allow small shops to trade unchallenged by major outlets on Sundays — but many still choose to remain closed.

One York Street business owner blamed the lack of traffic in town on Sundays for his decision to not open his shop.

While allowing major retailers to open on Sunday could spread shopping across the weekend and draw traffic into town, Ms Cattalini warned such a move could also hit small competitors.

“Tourism may benefit and customers may like the choice of an extra day at Coles and Woollies, but that doesn’t always mean it is better for the overall economy if in fact these larger chains put smaller competitors out of business and then raise their prices,” she said.

“We need to be sure that (policy) decisions take the whole economy into consideration.”

Ms Cattalini said online shopping, the availability of a skilled workforce in Albany and slow wage growth could have also contributed to business struggles.

The ACCI did not have an expected finish date for its research.

Amazing South Coast executive officer Peter Grigg said his focus was bringing tourists to Albany, leaving it up to businesses to decide the best path from there.

“Our focus and endeavour is to get more people here,” he said.

“What businesses do when those people are here is up to them, but we would encourage them to make money out of (the tourists).”

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