'Prehistoric': Retail industry slams push to ban Boxing Day trade in NSW

Shoppers looking for a bargain at the Boxing Day sales in Pitt St Mall Sydney, Saturday, Dec 26, 2015. (Archive Photo) Source: AAP

Australia's retail industry has hit out at claims Boxing Day trading is driven by corporate greed.

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has slammed the NSW Opposition Party’s claims Boxing Day trading is "all about corporate greed".

Newly-elected NSW Labor leader Michael Daley has vowed to overturn trading on the public holiday if the ALP wins government next year, saying on Wednesday "there is no good reason for shops to be open on Boxing Day" during a Sydney street protest.

But the retail industry’s peak body has hit back, saying Mr Daley’s remarks are "ludicrous, as Boxing Day is beneficial for both retailers and employees".

"It is abundantly clear that he wants to deny retail workers the employment and wage-earning potential that this day provides," said Russell Zimmerman, Executive Director of the ARA.

Last year, the NSW Government passed legislation to allow Boxing Day trading in response to a two-year trial of trading in regional areas, including Newcastle and Wollongong.

Previously, retail trade on Boxing Day had been restricted to tourist precincts only, such as Bondi and the Sydney CBD.

Mr Zimmerman said Mr Daley's proposal is a "backwards step" and "will severely disadvantage local small business owners in Australia’s biggest state".

"Any move to prevent local businesses from serving their customers on the busiest retailing day of the year will merely drive consumers online and provide a significant leg-up to overseas competitors."

"While this may come as a surprise to some in politics, the majority of New South Welshmen have views which have evolved well-past this 1980s-era thinking," he said.

"Consumers want to shop on Boxing Day, employees want the opportunity to earn extra wages, and retailers want to trade."

It comes after Woolworths sought permission this week to have 3500 staff stock shelves and make deliveries on December 25 in preparation for Boxing Day sales.

The supermarket giant says it needs to continue operating in non-retail activities until 5am on Christmas Day to ensure its NSW stores are adequately prepared for Boxing Day trade.

While all other states and territories allow stocking shelves on public holidays, certain NSW retailers are required to apply for government permission to operate on restricted trading days such as Christmas Day and Anzac Day.

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch