Trading hours: Why Perth should stay open longer

Posted by on Jun 1, 2009 in Activity centres, Feasibility, News | One Comment

Now that daylight saving has been given the heave-ho, the testy topic of retail trading hours is back in the headlines and clogging the airwaves.

Will Perth get extended shopping hours? Will the shops stay open until 7pm or 9pm? Whatever way the politicians go (no referendum for this one), there is certain to be people unhappy with the decision.

But it is worth noting that even an hour’s extension in the time we have to shop will bring real benefits to our activity centres, be it the Perth central business district or  suburban shopping centres.

As it stands, Perth operates largely mono-cultural activity centres that are heavily dominated by retail – a series of shopping malls surrounded by a sea of carparks. When the shops shut, the carparks are soon emptied, with little if anything to hold customers there past 5.30 or 6pm.

In the city, the shops shut and before you can say ‘but I haven’t done my shopping’ there is a mass exodus of people heading out of the CBD. Activity grinds to a halt. 

Any increase in trading hours will immediately increase the overlap between shopping and socialising, such as heading out to restaurants or the movies, and will result in greater interaction of diverse uses, thereby invigorating activity centres. 

A good shopping district open later will attract more restaurants and other entertainment facilities to the area. We would see more multi-purpose centres, with shops, restaurants, bars and cinemas interlinked and feeding off one another.

Rather than rushing to get a few groceries on the way home from work before the shops shut you could catch up with friends for coffee, a drink or an early dinner and then shop at your leisure – or vice versa. 

An extension of retail trading hours will also reduce anti-social behaviour, with more people out and about in areas currently abandoned within half an hour of shops closing.

The longer the overlap between diverse uses the more beneficial for all concerned, but even some overlap is better than nothing. It not only creates more vibrant centres but more sustainable ones, too.

1 Comment

  1. Avatar for Justin
    June 11, 2009


    You make some good points but isn’t the fundamental issue here that if some people want to work and others want to shop, who is the government to “regulate” this mutually beneficial and agreeable exchange?

    The common arguments FOR restricted trading are 1) that smaller operators will be put out of business by the larger ones; and 2) that people will be “forced” to work late nights, Sundays and so on.

    For #1, I don’t disagree with that. It’s highly likely that, in the face of increased competition, smaller retailers will be forced to close up shop. Then again, no one forces these smaller shops to close; they close because it’s not profitable enough to stay open.

    But is this a bad thing? The cheaper prices brought about by this competition provide everyone in the economy with additional income to spend elsewhere (the savings they now make they can use to acquire more goods than they could before). This savings will then be spent in other areas, increasing demand, replacing the jobs that were “lost”. So not only have we lost no jobs, but we’ve all gained additional products, or wealth (of course, government intervention in the form of rigid wages, union barriers to entry and so on can restrict or delay the reallocation of labour resulting in unemployment).

    As for #2, no one is forced to work late nights or weekends; people who choose to work do so because they prefer employment to other circumstances. I don’t see any justification for regulation that forces people to do what they would not do when given a free choice.

    Remove the regulation and let the people show us what they really want through their own actions.