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ARA: ‘Retailers Need More Flexible Trading Hours’

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is calling for greater flexibility when it comes to trading hours and penalty rates, in order to support the retail sector as it begins to recover from the COVID-19 lockdowns.

The ARA represents some 7,500 independent and national retail members of varying sizes, making it the largest association in the sector.

Paul Zahra, the CEO of the ARA, told The Australian: “We support a structure where penalties only apply when people are working outside of their preferences, not a system that is archaic and hasn’t kept pace with modern times.”

Given the shift to online channels since the onset of COVID-19, Zahra states that brick-and-mortar retailers should be given the flexibility to open when they want. “We want a system where physical stores could be equally as flexible. This could be the key to unlocking a retail recovery,” Zahra said.
If trading hours were relaxed, we would see some retailers open longer.

“For some retailers – maybe an essential needs retailer – it may make sense to be open 24/7, but there are others where it doesn’t make sense,” Zahra said.

Such changes could be fundamentally important to the recovery of the retail sector, which saw the biggest drop in turnover on record in April.

Source: ABS

Nevertheless, the ARA is cautiously optimistic that with the right governance the retail sector will begin to recover.

“We are only beginning to enter into the retail reopening period in May as non-essential physical retail stores begin to reopen around the country,” Zahra said. “However, our retail recovery will be slow and will track alongside our economic recovery, which remains in unchartered territory globally for the short term at least.”

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