“The decision announced by Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance to bring forward light rail works in the city’s retail precinct ahead of the commencement of the peak Christmas shopping period is welcome and recognises the important contribution CBD retail makes to the economy,” Retail Council CEO Anna McPhee said today.

Since the construction schedule was released in May, the Retail Council has been working closely with the NSW Government to mitigate the impact of the light rail works on the important retail Christmas trading period, when an additional 1,200 jobs are traditionally created.

“Under the original proposal, the retail sector was concerned about the disruption to deliveries and inconvenience to shoppers, not only in Zone 5 & 6 (between King and Park), but for the entire precinct out to the eastern edge of Elizabeth Street, and how that would impact business.

“During the Christmas period, consumer activity and freight delivery in the CBD retail precinct, Australia’s largest, is heightened. The Government has listened to the sector’s concerns and action to mitigate the disruption and minimise the economic cost on the community and retail businesses is welcomed”, Ms McPhee said.

The Retail Council will continue to work with Transport for NSW for other practical mitigation measures over the life of the project.

“Retail in Sydney’s CBD makes an important contribution to the State’s economy serving more than 1.9 million customers, employing 52,000 people and generating $14 billion per year with retail activity and approximately $3.5 billion can be attributed to the retail heart over the three months November, December and January.

“Retailers recognise the importance of building infrastructure to support Tomorrow’s Sydney.  The Retail Council accepts that the construction of 21st Century infrastructure along George Street, a main street that has its origin in the 18th century, will be both complex and disruptive.  Mitigation to minimise this disruption is paramount as it is important the CBD economy continues to function during the construction phase.

“The retail sector will call the Government to account if the impact brings too high a cost,” said Anna McPhee.