Positive and welcoming reaction.

On Thursday, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) confirmed its decision to reduce Sunday penalty rates from double time (200%) to time and a half (150%). Appliance Retailer spoke to a number of retailers from around the country who shared their thoughts on the outcome.

David Dorsett-Lynn from Dorsett Retail in Western Australia described the decision as a “very fair outcome” for the industry.

“We have had a penalty system designed to keep stores and cafes closed on Sunday so we could all go to church but the world changed when retail gained the flexibility to open – and customers love it. However, it is an economic disaster for retailers with most finding weekend and public holiday trade hard to make money from,” he told Appliance Retailer.

“I would love to see less casual employees working penalty hours part time to support university and more people making a career of retail. The penalty rate cut is a step in that direction as it provides a bit more flexibility for employers to reward key full time employees and that might encourage people to make a career out of retail,” he explained.

Peter Hammerman from 2nds World, with stores in both NSW and Victoria, has assured his staff who work Sundays or public holidays that they will be no worse off.

“The legislation will come into effect on 1 July, 2017 so we have some time to work out the cost/benefit of this decision. Saturday and Sunday are our best trading days, and therefore we require full staff on those days and I will not disadvantage staff who wish to work. People at 2nds World are the key to our success with most having been with the company for at least five to 10 years, or even longer,” he said.

Dale Winter from Garrick’s Camera House in Rockhampton, Queensland welcomed the decision, noting that the cut will help Australian retailers compete better with online stores and overseas competition.

“Australia has some of the highest retail award wages in the world which make up the major expense of most businesses. There has been many stores, both chain and independents, that have folded of late, so hopefully this decision will stem these ongoing losses and help Australian retailers better compete against the onslaught of competition such as Amazon,” he said.

Peter Bolte from Taree Leading Appliances in NSW does not currently trade after 12pm on Saturday, although with the ever-increasing turnover and customer demand for the Jaycar side of his business, “Sunday trading is looming as a natural extension of that facet of our business,” he told Appliance Retailer.

“We are still a long way off turnover realisation and timing to make that leap but this decision is certainly welcome news for us and our fellow retailers as we continue to strive to meet consumer expectation and stay one step in front of solely online retailers,” he added.

Hans Vanderstadt from Camberwell Electrics in Victoria also does not trade on Sundays but expressed his support for the decision, describing it as a “good move” for the industry.

Furthermore, University of Sydney associate professor, Angela Knox, who hones research expertise in the quality of work in Australia, said:

“It will take time to see the outcome of this decision. However, we already know that retail workers are the lowest paid workers in the country. Therefore, this will have a significant impact on their self-worth and their investment in skills.

“We have a growing tourism market, especially from China, and retail is at the heart of this industry. Increasing rent and energy prices should not jeopardise wages.”

ARA also welcomes FWA decision

Over the last two years the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), Master Grocers Association (MGA) and Franchise Council of Australia (FCA) along with many national retailers have been working with the Fair Work Commission to reduce Sunday penalty rates under the General Retail Industry Award 2010 (GRIA).

ARA executive director, Russell Zimmerman said the decision is welcomed by the ARA and its members. “Reducing these rates from double time to time and a half, will increase retail growth nationally and reduce the unemployment rate in Australia,” he said.

“With retailers’ currently paying employees double time on Sundays, many retailers are forced to close their doors on this day, impeding on growth in the retail sector. Sunday wages have previously been detrimental to Australian retailers, as many employers could only afford to roster one staff member on this day,” Zimmerman said.

The ARA will work with the Fair Work Commission to ensure this decision is implemented correctly across the board.