Anger over major retailers’ Christmas trading hours bid

A PUSH by the nation's major supermarkets to fix an anomaly in this year's Christmas-Boxing Day trading hours is a "guerrilla" tactic against small businesses.

The Council of Small Business Australia made the claim as it slammed moves by The National Retail Association to overturn a law stopping businesses with more than 20 employees from opening on Sunday and public holidays in select areas of the state.

Chains such as Woolworths, Coles, some IGAs, Target, Big W, Aldi and Kmart outlets will be closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Sunday December 27 and Monday, December 28 in Ayr, Blackwater, Bowen, Charters Towers, Childers, Chinchilla, Cloncurry, Ingham, Goondiwindi , Kingaroy, Longreach, Mission Beach, Murgon, Mt Isa, Pittsworth, Proserpine, Stanthorpe, Roma, Warwick and Weipa.

The Monday is the gazetted Boxing Day public holiday.

The NRA which represents many of these businesses, says it wants the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission to allow trade on December 27 and 28.

The rule would be lifted for this year only.

Council of Small Business Australia CEO Peter Strong said the legal action showed major retailers were "trying it on".

"This is the big retailers trying it on when consumers can get what they want from the smaller retailers," Mr Strong said.

"This is the thin end of the wedge and is a typical guerrilla approach to changing the current situation."

NRA CEO Trevor Evans said his organisation was going to court for the sake of Queenslanders who would be without shopping for four days.

"Shoppers in regional Queensland may have to brave the crush to stock up on groceries or else suffer unreasonable hardship if access to food and groceries supplied by major supermarkets is denied for four consecutive days," he said.

Small Business Minister Kate Jones said small businesses would step up to the plate for their communities.

"Small businesses in regional communities play an important role serving the community and supporting the local economy," Ms Jones said.

"Small businesses including convenience stores and shops such as newsagents, service stations, takeaway food shops and pharmacies are able to make their own decisions about their trading hours over the Christmas period and can trade on Sundays and public holidays.

"We know they're best placed to know what their local community needs."

A Coles spokeswoman said the company supported the NRA's move.

"We have not yet finalised our trading hours for the Christmas/Boxing Day period," she said.

"We do however support the NRA's position on this matter in order to provide our customers with as much convenience and availability as possible for their grocery needs over the Christmas period."

Woolworths and IGA did not respond to APN Newsdesk's request for comment. - APN NEWSDESK


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