No love for Boxing Day changes

Virginia and Bruce Robinson.

The NSW government has made permanent a trial to allow businesses to open on Boxing Day, but Tumut retailers aren’t happy about the changes.

Inside Out owners Bruce and Virginia Robinson said that Boxing Day should be a time for people to spend outside of the workplace.

“We should all close for a couple of days,” said Bruce.

“I think everybody deserves a couple of days off. It’s not all about shopping. Some people don’t get much time off, some people might only get a couple of days off around Christmas because they do work seven days a week. This takes it away from them.”

“The amount of people that already say to us, ‘You having a break at Christmas?’ Well, not really!” said Virginia.

“Two days, we’ve just got the two days. There’s no chance we’re giving up one of them. We’ve got grandkids now – some things are worth more than money. ”

The legislation passed by the government includes maximum fines for businesses that coerce employees into working when they don’t want to. (Against recommendations, they did not include a minimum fine.) However, Bruce said this is not realistic for most employees who are told to work on Boxing Day.

“They’ll find, ‘oh actually your shifts have been cut back,’” he said.

“There’s going to be pressure there, and they need seniors there as well and they might not want to work but, ‘oh, you had Boxing Day off last year.’ The businesses are just too money hungry.”

All Things Country’s Lynne Neilsen also won’t be staying open on Boxing Day, saying that the change in trading hours would be something that benefitted big chain stores, not small businesses.

“I don’t get many days off,” she said.

“If people can’t stay home on holidays, well that’s their bad luck, but I want a holiday. I don’t get a big holiday like some people do.”

Businesses have been able to stay open on Boxing Day for the past two years as part of a government trial, which former Secretary of the Treasury Percy Allen, who conducted a review, has decided was successful.

Less than half of NSW retailers support the changes, according to an independent study.

However, the Australian Retailers Association, the peak industry lobby group, is in favour.

“Consumers want to shop on Boxing Day, and retailers want to trade; it’s as simple as that,” ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said.

“Giving NSW retailers an opportunity to trade on this public holiday not only gives retailers a chance to increase their sales, it allows physical stores to compete with online and interstate retailers.”