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Seven-day trading debate continues

CONSUMERS across the region will be asked whether or not they want seven-day trading to be introduced in Warwick.

Councillors at this week’s Community Services committee meeting were presented with a report detailing the results of studies carried out in Warwick and Stanthorpe.

A survey conducted in September 2009 by the Warwick Chamber of Commerce was included in the report and showed Warwick traders “overwhelmingly against” seven-day trading at the time.

The Chamber is now conducting a new study.

A Survey Monkey conducted by the Economic Development Officer in Stanthorpe showed more than half of the surveyed businesses in Stanthorpe thought Sunday trading in Warwick would have a negative impact on the town.

There is a 50 per cent split on whether businesses believe Sunday trading is economically viable.

More than 30 per cent of Stanthorpe consumers said they were likely to shop in Warwick if the Rose City adopted Sunday trading.

Councillors expressed their interest in hearing the views of Warwick consumers, who were not surveyed, as well as the opinions of residents in other smaller retail areas in the Southern Downs.

“I would like to think when we make this decision, we are considering the whole of the region,” Cr Jo McNally said.

Cr Neil Meiklejohn added that he would like to see the results of the new Warwick Chamber of Commerce study before he made a decision.

The seven-day trading issue arose after Toowoomba turned to Sunday trading earlier in the year and the National Retail Association applied for the Warwick CBD to follow suit.

The legislation in theory only affects the city’s bigger shops such as Big W and Woolworths, which are currently not allowed to open on Sundays. Smaller retailers are mostly permitted to open anyway.

Differing opinions were apparent round the table with both the Mayor and Deputy highlighting the “embarrassment” caused when tourists in the region couldn’t find anything open on a Sunday.

“I find it a little embarrassing when we have a great influx of tourism but nowhere is open – that worries me,” Mayor Ron Bellingham said.

Cr Vic Pennisi lamented the fact Sunday trading was ever allowed.

“The mistake with Sunday trading was the very first decision (to allow it),” he said.

“After 13 years of it, there’s now an expectation by the consumer (for widespread seven-day trading).”

The council resolved to consider the report and to conduct a regional survey of consumers.

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