The National Retail Association (NRA) is today making its case to allow all shops in south east Queensland to open from 7am to 9pm Monday to Saturday, during the first day of an anticipated three-week hearing in front of the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC). 

 If successful, the NRA’s bid, which was lodged late in 2014, would unify 10 separate trading hours time zones between Noosa and Coolangatta and west to Gatton, simplifying arrangements for business owners and providing more consistent access to major stores and shopping centres for residents and tourists across the region.

 NRA CEO Trevor Evans said the current rules, introduced 25 years ago, hadn’t evolved alongside people’s changing lifestyles, or needs.

 “These trading hours rules were created around the same time that Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web, so it’s pretty safe to say it’s time for an update,” Mr Evans said.

 “This does not represent any radical shift in the balance currently struck by the trading hours rules, but it will get us as close as is possible to having one consistent set of rules again, at least within the south east corner.

 “Customer shopping habits have been changing over recent years. Fewer of us are working standard hours and many people are leading busier lives and juggling commitments at the times we used to shop.

 “We are not living in a closed domestic market, but are competing against online and overseas competitors who are open essentially 24 hours a day.

 The NRA lodged the application in October 2014, and is advocating for standardised 7AM – 9PM trading hours Monday to Saturday throughout the south east corner to allow shops to open longer should they wish, however the extended opening hours would not be mandatory.

 “Queensland has the most complex trading hours rules in Australia, with 98 pages of legislation, regulations and instruments, containing more than 180 legal obligations and prohibitions. The state has 50 different trading hours zones, each with its own different rules. 

“These laws are confusing for everyone, they are prohibitive to job creation because they don’t allow retailers to cater to their customers’ needs, and they are not in line with how people work and live in 2015.

“If successful, this bid would reduce the shambolic patchwork of trading hours zones across south east Queensland, and by doing so, add $111 million to the Queensland economy and drive the creation of 1000 new jobs.

 The hearing is expected to run for around three weeks.