An independent report by a researcher at The University of Western Australia has found that shop trading hours in Western Australia should be fully deregulated. The report is the first is of its kind to be undertaken in Western Australia.
The comprehensive report, by Assistant Professor Tracey Atkins from the Consumer Research Unit in the Faculty of Law, analyses previous research on shop trading hours, the historical and current regulation of shop trading hours in Western Australia, and the way in which shop trading hours are regulated in other Australian jurisdictions. The report also analyses the social and economic impact of deregulating shop trading hours in Western Australia.
Professor Atkins said the report concluded the long-term consumer interest was best served by the deregulation of shop trading hours.
“Consumers show a clear preference for the ability to shop outside of those hours historically allowed by government regulation,” she said.
“In each jurisdiction that has undertaken shop trading hours reform, roughly equally divided consumer sentiment for deregulation pre-reform changes to overwhelming support post-reform.
“In this way too, consumer preference, rather than government preference (or the preference of any one group of retailers) determines market offering – a situation that leads to the greatest economic efficiency and optimal price, choice and quality for consumers. Similarly, removal of restrictions reduces regulatory burdens, complexity and cost for business and enhances productivity.”
Professor Atkins said the experience in deregulating shop trading hours in other states has been largely positive and has resulted in benefits to consumers and growth in the retail sector. On the whole, concerns expressed by opponents of shop trading hours deregulation did not eventuate following shop trading hours reform.
“Shop trading hours deregulation best accords with an approach that respects freedom to choose without unnecessary government restraint or distortion,” she said.
“In a deregulated environment, consumers are free to choose when and where to shop, businesses are free to choose when to open, how to operate and what to sell, workers have enhanced freedom to work in a way that suits modern lifestyles and people are free to attend church, play Sunday sport or shop – it is their choice.”
Professor Atkins said her research showed the preferred course of action was full deregulation of shop trading hours.