Gold Coast business leaders have slammed as “preposterous” a move by grocery giants Coles and Woolworths for 18-hour-a-day trading.
The National Retail Association, representing the supermarket titans, has applied to the Queensland Industrial Commission for radically extended trading hours.
It wants major supermarkets on the Gold Coast tourist strip to be able to trade from 6am to midnight seven days a week.
Independent retailers are fighting the move, saying it will put them out of business and spark a renewed push by Coles and Woolworths for extended trading across the state.
They are being backed by the Gold Coast Combined Chamber of Commerce, which says the proposed hours are unnecessary and unsustainable.
“There is no demonstrable need for it and the NRA’s argument that there is, is just preposterous,” chamber secretary Bob Janssen said.
“What tourist is going to get up at six o’clock in the bloody morning to go shopping? They’d rather be in the surf.
“And late at night they’d rather be in a nightclub or restaurant than a supermarket.”
Mr Janssen, a veteran small business advocate, has offered to testify against the NRA’s application at an industrial commission hearing in November.
The NRA argued tourist needs were not being met by current trading hours which allowed shopping centres to trade from 8am-9pm Monday to Friday, 8.30am-5.30pm on Saturdays and 9am-6pm on Sundays.
The NRA said the “highly inadequate” hours forced tourists to shop at convenience stores with higher prices and inferior ranges.
The Retailers Association, representing small and independent retailers, said the NRA application was a power grab by Coles and Woolworths, which already controlled 80 per cent of the national grocery market.
“Seven years ago these little sookiess got their nose in the extended trading hours trough by starting with one application on the Gold Coast, then extended it to the Sunshine Coast, then to Brisbane and away they went,” association executive director Scott Driscoll said.
“Ever since, they have been criss-crossing the nation targeting regional areas (and) pushing for trading hours extensions that quite frankly just aren’t needed.”
Mr Driscoll said the concept that a shopper would need to do a full grocery shop at midnight on a weekday “is not only ridiculous, it’s utter nonsense”.