While some business figures are pushing for deregulated business trading hours, one industry body has claimed that such a move would “seriously impact the viability of small businesses”.
The debate is centred on Western Australia, where there have been calls to deregulate trading hours in a bid to boost the opening hours for retailers across the state.
However Jos de Bruin, CEO of MGA Independent Retailers, an employer industry association, said that such a move would only benefit larger operators and that “family enterprises and private business will inevitably suffer heavy financial losses if this happened”.
“We have seen Coles and Woolworths gradually expand their power by building more and bigger stores, which in the end just crowd out the little guys to the point of annihilation, all in their own self-interest,” said Mr de Bruin.
“Currently small retailers are able to trade at times that gives them a small trading advantage and that helps them to survive, but if those times disappear – then so will they.”
Mr de Bruin said it is not just the retailers themselves that would suffer, but all of the farmers and local suppliers that depend on smaller retailers as well.
“It’s also the professionals who were once supported by small businesses, and the surrounding farms that supply local commodities, they suffer too, because Coles and Woolworths have their support in the big cities and they buy in massive quantities,” he said.
He accused the major retailers of “bullying the WA people in regard to trading hours deregulation”, suggesting that SMEs simply couldn’t afford to compete on opening hours against larger businesses with larger budgets and the ability to be subsidised from their expansive networks.
“There won’t be more jobs, as we are led to believe, there won’t be more competition because there won’t be anyone to compete with,” he said.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.