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Picture: The West Australian

WA shoppers and retailers are not taking advantage of extended trading hours in the lead up to Christmas, says the country’s peak small business group.

In November the State Government agreed to let retailers trade from 8am to 6pm on the three Sundays before Christmas and on Boxing Day in an attempt to help traders struggling with the tough economic climate.

The move was welcomed by business, which said it would help brick and mortar retailers compete with online.

However, the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia said today that visits to 16 Perth metropolitan shopping centres last Sunday between 9am and 11am and after 4pm suggested there was little demand for the extra trading hours.

“In one suburban centre only two of about 10 shops were open by 9.15am while up to half of the shops in other centres including the bigger centres were closed until at least 9.45am,” COSBOA executive director Peter Strong said.

“A number (of shopkeepers and retail staff) said that shoppers were disinterested or unaware of the extra Sunday hours."

Several retailers expressed doubts about the value of Sunday trading and the extra hours, while retailers at two major centres said shops would not open until about 11am.

“Another noted that many shops were preparing to close at 4.30pm," Mr Strong said.