The NSW Government will extend retail trading restrictions to cover all of ANZAC Day, with the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) voicing concerns over the change.

Currently, retail traders such as supermarkets and fashion retailers are required to stay closed until 1pm under the Retail Trading Act. The change will see them remain closed until midnight.

The restrictions do not apply to small businesses and businesses not considered retailers or with exemptions such as markets, cafes, chemists, newsagencies and takeaway restaurants. These businesses will continue to remain open the entire day.

A review into ANZAC Day trading restrictions commenced last year and a public consultation period ran from September to October.

A majority of submissions supported full-day restrictions including support from veterans, veterans’ organisations and members of the public.

The ARA made a submission to the NSW Government’s consultation last year opposing changes to trading hour restrictions on ANZAC Day. 

Chief Executive Paul Zahra said the ARA does not support the extension of the current ANZAC Day trading hour regulations in NSW.

“ANZAC Day is an incredibly significant day of remembrance for Australians,” he 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.”  

Zahra also noted the impact on the earning potential of retail staff.  

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

“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.” 

The ARA added that the changes to ANZAC Day operating hours would also create another level of inconsistency between the states and territories.  

“Western Australia is the only state that closes on ANZAC Day but all states take their own approach. If NSW were to create another set of unique rules, it will become even more complicated for national retailers to manage.    

“We believe that the existing regulations allowing all stores to open after 1.00pm strikes the right balance for consumers, retail workers and small business owners.”

NSW Premier Chris Minns said that closing the biggest corporate shops for a single day is a small price to pay for living in a free and open democracy.

“For Australians, no occasion could be more solemn or significant than ANZAC Day,” NSW Premier Chris Minns said.

“As of next year, New South Wales will extend our retail trading restrictions across Anzac Day, to make sure our veterans are recognised and free to take part in services throughout the day.”

Acting Minister for Industrial Relations Tara Moriarty said laws currently restrict trading in the morning, but asked why retailers should be allowed to trade when afternoon and sunset services occur.

“We can’t be half-hearted about ANZAC Day,” she said.

Meanwhile, Minister for Veterans David Harris said extending trading restrictions on ANZAC Day “ensures that the sanctity of remembrance is given the status it deserves. 

“ANZAC Day is a national day of commemoration for the community to come together and acknowledge the sacrifice of Australian servicemen and women in defence of our nation and our way of life.”

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