Retailers in NSW will now be allowed to trade on Boxing Day following the passing of the Retail Trading Amendment Bill 2015 through state parliament this week.

NSW was previously one of the only states in Australia to enforce Boxing Day retail closures, with only stores in the Sydney CBD and tourist areas, plus a number of exempt – mainly small or local stores – also allowed to operate.

While the lifting of Boxing Day trade restrictions may be good news for stores previously prevented from trading, it may not be so good for small local stores that now face greater competition for a share of spending on the day and the impact on convenience retailers is yet to be seen.

Jeff Rogut, CEO of the Australasian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS), told C&I Media it is important convenience retailers make the most of the holiday opportunity by being prepared.

“It is important that stores continue to offer a high level of service to ensure that loyal customers are not lost. If your business is open on Boxing Day, and the other holidays, put signs up now letting customers know so that they will be reassured that you will be there to meet their needs. Ensure that your store has sufficient stocks of products in high demand at this time of year,” Rogut said.

“There is no surer way of losing customers to competitors than running out of popular items such as ice over the holidays. We are no less convenient because other retailers may also chose to trade – make the most of the holiday opportunity.”

The legislation has been praised by the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), the National Retail Association (NRA), and the Retail Council.

Russell Zimmerman, executive director of the ARA, said the new ruling will eliminate the uneven playing field that was fostered by the previous law.

“The previous law was a draconian decision which left NSW, the largest economy in Australia, behind the rest of the country and blocked thousands of retailers from opening on the biggest sale day of the year.

“We now live in a seven-day consumer economy, and shoppers are demanding to be able to shop whenever and however they want. This is a common sense decision that will benefit retailers and consumers alike.

This year, Boxing Day falls on a Saturday, both December 26 and Monday December 28 will be classified as public holidays and penalty rates of 250 per cent will apply for employees rostered to work on these days.

Anna McPhee, CEO of the Retail Council, said countless inquiries had demonstrated the merits of deregulating retail trading hours, and easing Boxing Day trading restrictions was a sensible reform to end the patchwork of trading hour restrictions on Boxing Day across the state.

“We are pleased the reform will provide retail employees with increased choice to work over the Christmas period providing many retail staff with additional wage earning opportunities,” said McPhee.

Michael Lonie, NSW state director of NRA, said the new laws are all about creating a simplified and consistent set of trading hour zones around Boxing Day.

“For the first time, local retailers around all Sydney’s suburbs and all regional areas will, this year, see cash running through their tills on one of the most important days in the retail calendar,” Lonie said.

“Of course, it’s optional for retailers to open their doors, and employees in those areas will not be forced to work if they don’t want to.”

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