Push to support Light's small businesses

Light MP Tony Piccolo with Motor Trade Association CEO Paul Unerkov and Gawler Steinborner Holden dealer principal David Reynolds.
Light MP Tony Piccolo with Motor Trade Association CEO Paul Unerkov and Gawler Steinborner Holden dealer principal David Reynolds.

Small business owners are joining forces with their employees to stop the deregulation of shopping hours, which they say means big businesses wipe out small businesses and have a negative effect on family life.

The Motor Trade Association (MTA) has joined a long list of industry associations that support small business’ opposition to the deregulation of shop trading hours.

Light MP Tony Piccolo said he has been inundated with letters from motor trade employees who are strongly opposed to the further deregulation of shopping hours.

Correspondence have been sent to all MPs and candidates and state that: ‘As an employee of a vehicle dealership, I do not support Steven Marshall and the Liberal Party's policy to remove the Shop Trading Hours exemption for dealerships, and neither do my family or friends.’

Thousands of people have signed the ‘Save our Sunday’ petition across South Australia.

The writers state that the petition indicates the level of opposition from dealerships, their staff, family, friends and customers to the policy put forward by the Liberal Party.

The campaign run by the MTA, their member dealers and employees, is supported by small retailers and independent supermarkets.

MTA members further oppose deregulation because:

  • Evidence demonstrates that sales volumes remain constant despite higher costs;
  • Difficulty in retaining and attracting staff;
  • Regional dealerships would suffer viability issues if forced to compete with metropolitan dealerships;
  • Anecdotal evidence suggests consumers welcome opportunities to access sale yards without pressure of salespeople;
  • Increased competition from online sales have already increased market access; and
  • Processing of finance not available to complete sales.

Mr Piccolo said South Australia’s independent supermarkets have warned a Liberal move to deregulate shopping hours would hand more market power to Coles and Woolworths, and would in the longer term, lift the cost of groceries.

Drake Supermarkets CEO Roger Drake has previously said that he was staggered by the Liberal Party policy to fully deregulate shop trading hours.

Mr Drake told the Light MP that there is “no doubt” extra hours will mean extra costs, which must be passed on to the consumer in the end.

Mr Piccolo said that South Australia is one of the cheapest places to buy groceries, because of a strong independent retail sector, “so if that were the case, why would we want to extend shopping hours”.

“Full deregulation of shopping hours only helps the big retailers like Coles and Woolworths at the expense of smaller family owned businesses,” he said.

“Fully deregulated shop trading hours will wipe out the remaining butchers, fruit and vegetables shops and the like.

“The Liberal Party policy will only serve the interests of the big end of town.”

The SA Independent Retailers, which represent local IGA and Foodland supermarkets, have warned that the Liberal Party policy would shift the balance in favour of the big two supermarket chains.

Mr Piccolo said one of the great success stories of South Australia has been the independent retail stores like Foodland.

“They have been incredibly successful and they’re much bigger here than in any other state because of current trading hours,” he said.

“The current shopping hours help protect our small businesses from unfair competition from the big boys in the retail industry,”.