WITH Woolworths and Coles closed on a Sunday, Emerald’s independently-owned Foodworks supermarket does a roaring trade.
Owner Rick Smith said open slather on Sunday trading would devastate his business, and he’s rallying fellow independent retailers to fight the move by the National Retailers Association and Union of Employers.
With 48 per cent of his weekly turnover at stake, and a $2 million investment to protect, it’s not a battle he’s prepared to lose.
“It’s going to be a costly battle, but I have my family to worry about,” he said.
“If we can’t survive, I will lose my business, my house… I will lose everything.
“Sunday trading would cost us about 48 per cent of our turnover, and I would have to drop wages, putting 24 people out of a job,” he added.
With the cost of rent, rates and power on the up, Rick said price hikes and staff cuts would be inevitable in order to keep the business in the black.
“If it goes through, my first priority will be to cut staffing costs substantially and then see how we operate. If the business still isn’t viable, we’ll have to increase prices by about 20 per cent.”
Emerald Chamber of Commerce president Victor Cominos said Sunday trading could “open the floodgates for major retail chain stores to wipe out any semblance of competition and destroy small businesses”.
The subsequent profit losses would have a knock-on effect on community groups and organisations, said Rick.
“We put about $70,000 back in to the community as part of our advertising, and of course, all of these things will have to be cut back.”
Lilli Brown boutique owner Tina McCord said the novelty of Sunday trading would be short-lived, with extra staffing and power costs likely to eclipse any financial benefit.
“For the last two years, we have had Sunday trading on the two weekends before Christmas, and it has not proved financially beneficial,” she said.
“The first month will be a novelty and then after that it will just fizzle out like
Thursday night trading. You will have regular customers but most people will just stay at home.”
Tina said despite double time Sunday wages, getting staff to cover the hours would prove a struggle.
“It is hard to find staff to work on Saturdays as it is, let alone Sundays.
“Most of us (business owners) work six days a week already, and now it looks like we will have to work seven.”
Mr Cominos said seven-day trading would not encourage the average buyer to spend more.
“It won’t,” agreed Genesis Hair Design owner Kerry Hayes.
“People have only got so much money, it just gets distributed over more days, so we would be paying out for more staff and not getting any more money from it.
“I can’t really see the sense in it. We are a small town, and if it’s not working in Rockhampton, it’s certainly not going to work here.”
Speciality stores are likely to escape the consequences of Sunday trading, said Highlands Pets and Produce owner Shann Sauer.
“Our products are more specialised pet products and our staff are better trained so they can answer questions, advise customers and provide a more professional service.”
With Sunday trading commonplace in most states, small business should have been prepared for this change, said Shann.
“Retail is changing and this is what the public want. In retail it is your job to find out what the public is after and make sure you deliver that.”
The full bench of the Queensland Industrial Tribunal Commission will sit in Emerald on October 27.
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