Shops forced to close over Easter weekend

VISITORS will flock to the Southern Downs this Easter only to be greeted with closed doors.

It seems penalty rates for the holiday period are killing small businesses, with The Gorgeous Coffee Lounge owner Sandy Wallace saying she couldn't understand how the government could expect them to be able to afford to open their doors this Easter.

"I've estimated with the hours and staff wages, electricity and super, in just four days I would lose thousands of dollars," she said.

"Even if you added 25% to the cost of food and coffee, it's still not worth it.

"Customers wouldn't go for expensive food either."

Mrs Wallace said a cash business was one of the hardest.

"If a staff member was not to charge for one item, you need to sell 10 more to make up for the loss," she said.

"I'm sure many other small businesses would be in the same boat.

"Not to mention you've got all the staff you need to pay public holiday rates. It's like you're actually paying six staff members but only have two on."

Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland general manager of advocacy Nick Behrens said some businesses will have to pay seven days of penalty rates in the 10 days between April 18 and April 27 as Anzac Day immediately follows the Easter long weekend.

"We are anticipating up to two-thirds of hospitality businesses to close on the key holiday days of Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, Anzac Day and Sunday, April 27, as they struggle to break even," Mr Behrens said.

"Yes it might be during the holidays but five days of penalty rates at double-time-and-a-half in such a short timeframe is simply crippling.

"Once again no-one wins with businesses closing, customers baffled and employees missing out on being paid for days they should have been working."

Mr Behrens said the tourism industry had been showing signs of improvement in the past 12 to 18 months but the prospect of paying seven days of penalty rates over Easter would not be something to look forward to.

"Time and again we have suggested the first five shifts of an employee's week be penalty rate-free before the additional rates kick in from six shifts onwards.

"Penalty rates, as they stand, were introduced at a time when working weekends or a holiday was a rarity.

"But we must change with the times and accept we are now a 24-7 society."

Warwick Chamber of Commerce treasurer Lewis von Stieglitz said travellers would expect shops to be open.

"Most people come home and visit family over the break," he said.

"They'll have a cup of tea at home but then they will be looking for somewhere to go out.

"It's definitely not good for anyone's brand to be closed but it is up to the businesses."



 Pick up a copy of Thursday's Daily News for our Easter Trading Hours feature.

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