Signs of deregulation of retail trading hours are slowly being revealed.

The NSW government has updated the state’s retail trading laws enabling all retailers in NSW the opportunity to open their stores on Boxing Day.

Greg Pearce, Minister for Finance and Services, said the Retail Trading Act would be a win for shoppers while delivering a boost for retailers and the State’s economy.

“We have listened to the needs of retailers and shoppers by delivering retail trading laws that better reflect community expectations in our modern economy. All retailers in NSW will now have the opportunity to trade on what is one of the biggest shopping days of the year,” he said.

“Boxing Day will still be a public holiday – no-one can be forced to work and penalty rates are unaffected.

“The changes will ease shop trading restrictions and cut red tape – providing opportunities for more jobs and the potential for greater earnings for shop employees.”

Under the reforms announced, bank branches will also be able to open on the August bank holiday and NSW retail trading laws will be broadly brought into line with Victoria.

“The reforms come as a result of a NSW Government review of NSW retail trading laws and an extensive community and industry consultation process,” Pearce said.

The news has been warmly welcomed by the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) but said retailers should not be forced to open on these days if they deemed it economically unfeasible.

ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman said removing unnecessary trading restrictions was a positive step towards responding to a modern shopping economy but many smaller retailers may not be able to afford to open stores given the realities of crippling penalty rates.

“While most retailers would dearly love to open on days such as Boxing Day, the current reality is the costs can outweigh the benefits when taking into account the expenses associated with paying staff penalty rates on those days,” he said.

“It should be up to retailers to make the call on whether or not they will open on public holidays and many will make the tough decision to remain closed on Boxing Day and other public holidays.”