THE Council of Small Business of Australia (COSBOA) is today challenging Coles and Woolworths on their notion that extended trading hours will be of benefit to the economy and consumers.
While COSBOA agrees with Coles and Woolworths, in identifying Australia’s need for uniform trading hours (as reported in The Australian newspaper on 26 May 2014 ('Woolworths and Coles unite on trading'), it argues that longer hours will instead be detrimental to innovation and productivity to our communities.
Peter Strong, CEO of COSBOA explains while retailers need uniform opening and closing times, it is the major supermarkets, Coles and Woolworths, that should be cutting back their hours of operation in order to allow smaller retailers to thrive and foster healthy competition.
“Each community should have the capacity to adjust shopping hours according to the needs of local people and the duopoly should be limited to these set opening hours, thus providing smaller outlets with the opportunity to thrive while meeting community needs for access to retail at convenient times.
“If the duopoly is allowed to extend their hours further, competition will be limited even more and innovation and productivity will continue to decline. The effect on local retail culture and diversity is just as important. If the duopoly is allowed to drive other shops out of business then it is the consumer that will suffer,” said Mr Strong.
COSBOA acknowledges that competition is at the heart of any good economy, but the domination of Coles and Woolworths is already stifling innovation and productivity within the supply chain and manufacturing; extending trading hours will only increase their dominance of the marketplace.
“The problem does not end with Coles and Woolworths but also encompasses large landlords, such as Westfield and Stocklands, who dictate unsustainable opening hours even when there is no likelihood of good business for small business operations.
"With the dominance of these big landlords and the duopoly combined, we will inevitably see the closure of main-street shopping, resulting in a common, predictable model that erodes our culture and diversity as well as Australia’s capacity to compete internationally.
“The power and influence of the duopoly and the biggest landlords must be curbed if the economy is to grow and our local and unique retail and café marketplaces are to be allowed to survive,” added Mr Strong.
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