Geraldton is no closer to deregulated trading, despite the long-awaited launch of Sunday trading in Perth yesterday.
In a milestone for retail trading in WA, all retailers across metropolitan Perth were permitted to open on Sunday as the State Government’s new retail laws came into effect.
As of August 26, all general retail shops in the Perth metropolitan area will be able to trade from 11am to 5pm on Sundays and public holidays, except for Christmas, Good Friday and Anzac Day.
The decision to open still remains the choice of individual retailers.
Geraldton was left as one of only two major centres in WA not to have unrestricted Sunday trading, following Albany City Council’s decision to endorse deregulated trading hours in February this year.
Despite this, Geraldton continues to buck the trend with the City confirming there will be no moves to vary the current trading hour regulations in the immediate future.
City of Greater Geraldton spokeswoman Sue Chiera said the council had made no decision on the issue but it would be considered as part of the City Vibrancy Strategy.
She said the City was aware of divergent views on deregulating trading within the community and the business sector and for changes to the laws to be adopted it would require their support.
The Mid West Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s support would directly impact any future application by the City to the Commerce Minister for deregulated trading.
The chamber remains firm in its stance against deregulated trading.
Chief executive Bill Headley said the City was not under pressure to conform with the State Government’s new legislation, but he was aware some City councillors wanted to put the issue back on the agenda.
He said it was the chamber’s position that there was not a critical mass that substantiated the need at this time and there was also the problem that business proprietors still had to pay excessive penalty rates on Sundays.
He said the chamber was in regular consultation with business owners over the issue and it would keep it under review.
“The chamber will look to change its view when it is economically viable for the businesses to open,” he said.
Both Coles and Woolworths have been outspoken over the issue, declaring their support for broad deregulation of trading hours.
Coles spokesman Jim Cooper said customers should be able to shop where and when it suited them and not have those choices restricted through government regulation.
Woolworths spokesperson Benedict Brook said there was a need for it and a desire on the part of the people of Geraldton to be given the opportunity to make up their own minds on when they wanted to shop.
He said Karratha and Port Hedland were examples of regional towns where Sunday trading had proved to be extremely popular.
“We welcome competition and there is room for many retailers in the market.
“We welcome the reforms in Perth and look forward to people in regional areas, where Sunday trading isn’t currently allowed, having a say on Sunday trading coming to their town,” he said.
Commerce Minister Simon O’Brien said the State Government believed in giving retailers and shoppers more choice and flexibility, but understood that regional communities were all different.
“Which is why it is up to the community through its local government to request changes to retail trading hours,” he said.