SUNDAY trading is coming to an Emerald store near you.
The green light was given last week to the controversial seven-day trading application lodged in October last year, but has been met with mixed emotions in the community.
Following the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission’s announcement on Thursday, the Central Highlands Regional Council and Emerald’s Chamber of Commerce held grave concerns for the economic future of smaller retailers in town.
“It’s concerning for our region because of the impacts on small businesses, not just in Emerald but the surrounding towns,” Central Highlands Mayor Peter Maguire said.
“There’s impact on small business in the smaller communities like Springsure, Blackwater, Alpha and Capella to be considered.
“Based on our population, how is it going to work?”
Cr Maguire said the council opposed the move when it was lodged last year, citing concerns for not only the economic viability of retailers, but also the potential impact seven-day trading would have on family life.
“For me, Sunday is a day of rest to spend with family,” he said.
“I think a lot of people think that way, and I know shopping on a Sunday is optional but I still believe it will impact on that area as well.”
Emerald Chamber of Commerce president Victor Cominos echoed Cr Maguire’s sentiments, and went further to predict the increased trading hours would send grocery prices higher for consumers.
“Seven-day trading, from a customer point of view, is great because they’ll be able to wander down to the store on a Sunday and buy a bottle of milk if they’ve run out,” he said.
“But I believe that seven-day trading is going to increase prices, and the only one to benefit from it will be the major retailers and the fuel companies too.
“In reality, all they are doing is providing an added cost to sell an item.”
Small businesses, or what Mr Cominos refers to as “second-tier retailers”, will face more difficulties recruiting staff but after a period of adjustment, business would return to relatively normal.
“The second-tiers will lose considerable revenue because people are creatures of habit,” he said.
“They are used to going to Woolworths or Coles during the week so now they’ll continue going to the major stores on the weekends.
“People from Springsure, Capella, Alpha and those sorts of places normally come to Emerald for professional services such as doctors, but in the future, they’ll make it a weekend outing and come to town on a Sunday.”
Mr Cominos and Cr Maguire did agree on one point, however.
“A good thing, I guess, is that people will increasingly shop more in Emerald and not go to Rockhampton for their shopping,” Cr Maguire said.
National Retailers Association director of Corporate Services Jed Moore said the seven-day trading approval was a positive for the town which, “already has a high degree of shiftwork and also a higher-than-usual level of disposable income.”
“Residents aren’t going to travel a distance to do a small convenience shop,” he said.
Mr Moore said the decision to increase trading was a move toward meeting consumer demand following the floods.
“The Emerald market centre has been badly affected by the floods which has put substantial pressure on Woolworths meeting consumer demand, so seven-day trading will assist in the increased demand,” he said.
Supermarket conglomerate Woolworths was approached for comment but was unavailable.
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