Traders back extra hours

Ellie HoneyboneGeraldton Guardian
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Camera IconFile image. Credit: Getty Images

The Mid West Chamber of Commerce and Industry says its members support extended trading hours after completion of a survey.

The survey conducted from February 7-March 10 asked the chamber’s 720 members if they supported extended trading hours as proposed in the City of Greater Geraldton’s Geraldton Growth Plan.

Chamber chief executive Glen Whistler-Carr said of the 300 who had responded, 65 per cent had said ‘yes’.

“This is a fairly clear indication that our members want the convenience of extended trading hours once they are approved by the appropriate minister,” he said.

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“It seemed to have been a divisive proposal amongst the general Geraldton population and there were very few people sitting on the fence. You either want the extra hours or you don’t, it is a very straightforward decision.”

The City council has unanimously endorsed a 12-month extended trading trial from July.

Under the trial, traders would have the option of opening between 8am and 9pm on weekdays, 8am and 5pm on Saturdays, and 11am and 5pm on Sundays and public holidays.

Mr Whistler-Carr said the chamber conducted the survey as it needed to find out what its membership believed was the right way forward.

“I wasn’t sure how it would play out as these are business people as well as community members,” he said.

“It seems that they have now given their approval to this trial.

“We did ask for comments with responses, but most members just answered ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

“Some of the concerns that we have been made aware of are from retailers regarding penalty rates.

“Others are concerned the change in hours will impact their family and lifestyle, while others think the change will be a great benefit to local traders as well as tourism trade.”

Mr Whistler-Carr said the Chamber would evaluate the issue over the next 12 months and keep an eye on how it was progressing.

“At the end we will conduct another survey and ask for further feedback,” he said.

Taking Shape Geraldton manager Carol Kirk said she hoped her fashion store would benefit.

“We are one of 160 Taking Shape stores around Australia and the only shop that could not open on Boxing Day,” she said.

“Our company has been pushing for this change for a while now.

“Trial and error is the only way to find out if this will work but for us. I believe it will be a chance to make the most of the cruise ship passengers passing through.”

Geraldton businessman Bill van Ast has owned Bennetts for more than 30 years and said he would not be opening on Sundays during the optional trial.

“I do not agree with extended trading hours, mainly because of the extra cost associated with them,” he said.

“I also feel that from a community point of view, weekends are important for people to enjoy with their families.

“Larger shopping centres can open on Sundays because they can operate on cheaper rates.

“We can’t compete with that.

“I do not agree with seven-day trading but I feel that we either need all supermarkets to open on Sunday or all to close — you can’t have one open while others are closed. It’s not ethical.”

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