Do shoppers want more Christmas shopping hours?

The McGowan Government’s extended shopping hours in the lead up to Christmas have angered the Opposition and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA.

DO Yanchep and Gingin shoppers want more shopping hours than those announced by the McGowan Government on Friday, September 21?

From Monday December 17, shops can choose to open from 7am on weekdays including Christmas Eve.

Commerce and Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston said from December 9, shoppers would have an extra four hours each Sunday to do their Christmas shopping, with shops able to open at 8am and close at 6pm through to Sunday, December 30.

Mr Johnston has approved the additional 34 hours for general retail shops in the Perth metropolitan area starting on Saturday December 8.

Shops can open from 8am to 6pm on weekends, Boxing Day and the New Year’s Day public holidays (normally 11am to 5pm) – bigger shops will remain closed on Christmas Day.

The extended trading hours will conclude on New Year’s Day.

Mr Johnston said the government wanted consumers and major Perth retailers to take full advantage of Christmas and post-Christmas shopping.

“I encourage everyone to buy their Christmas presents from their local community and support Western Australian jobs and retailers,’’ he said.

But Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA chief executive officer Chris Rodwell said the government was pushing shoppers online and strangling WA jobs in the process by reducing usual extended retail trading hours by more than 30 per cent during the Christmas period.

On Twitter Mr Rodwell said the government’s decision was tough for the 7700 people looking for work in retail in WA.

Mr Rodwell said last year the government provided an extra 49 hours of retail trading over the Christmas period from December 5 to January 1, in line with a long standing bi-partisan precedent.

“Just 34 hours have been approved this year and will begin three days later,’’ he said.

“An entire working week (Monday to Friday) of additional trading hours has also been withheld – restricted to usual trading hours.

“This decision is anti-jobs, is unfriendly for shopping families and ignores the threat of online competition to local retailers.

“It’s hard to know what is more concerning – that the government has made this decision thinking it doesn’t impact on jobs in WA, or that it understands its damaging decision and has proceeded anyway.

“For a government that was elected on a platform of creating jobs, to then reduce the number of additional jobs created over Christmas by more than 30 per cent is a slap in the face for retail workers.

Opposition Commerce spokesman Michael Mischin said Mr Johnston would go down as the Grinch who stole working hours from workers, trading hours from businesses and choice from Western Australian consumers.

Mr Mischin said at a time when retail trade was flat and there were thousands of Western Australians unemployed and under-employed, the government had an opportunity to allow businesses to open longer, employ more people, and enable them to work longer and earn more.

“They are depriving thousands of workers the opportunity to work extra hours and earn more money at a time when many face increased costs,’’ he said.

“Minister Johnston, a former official of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association, has simply confirmed to whom he owes his loyalties.

“This government is not making decisions in the interests of Western Australians, but in the interests of its union masters.”