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‘We view larger retailers as essential service providers’: Concerns over ANZAC Day trading ban

Australia’s peak retail body has expressed concerns that trading bans for large retailers on ANZAC Day will be detrimental to workers relying on public holiday pay, as well as small communities.

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) issued a statement on Wednesday following the New South Wales Government’s decision to extend retail trading restrictions to midnight on ANZAC Day – meaning that chain supermarkets will not be allowed to operate on the day.

Currently, all stores can open for trade after 1pm on April 25.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra said: “With morning services and marches across the country, retailers in NSW have consistently honoured ANZAC Day commemorations by remaining closed until 1.00pm. Rather than detracting from ANZAC Day commemorations, retailers support community activities and consumer needs.

“Changing this legislation will not change the way Australians come together on this important day.

“The current approach strikes the right balance, allowing respectful commemoration and consumer choice and convenience, without putting more restrictions on retailers at a time when the sector is doing it tough.

“While we are relieved to see that small businesses such as cafes, restaurants and chemists are exempt, larger retailers including essential retailers such as supermarkets, electrical, hardware and department stores selling winter necessities will be affected.

“Shoppers still require food and supplies on public holidays, which is why we view larger retailers as essential service providers particularly in regional and remote locations.

“Data from our membership shows consumers in NSW would like the option to shop for food and other essentials on ANZAC Day and did so in higher volumes in the opening hours of trade after 1.00pm.”

When asked about the changes, Coles and Woolworths declined to comment, but pointed Mumbrella to the ARA’s statement.

“Many workers are relying on public holiday rates to make ends meet during this incredibly challenging economic period,” Zahra continues.

“Any change to the current regulations would restrict consumer choice and reduce the earning potential for retail employees who choose to work on ANZAC Day.”

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