SHOPS will be free to open on the Anzac Day public holiday following an announcement by Commerce Minister Troy Buswell that bigger general retail stores could apply for special permits to trade on the Monday.
With Anzac Day falling on a Saturday and the following Monday, April 27, being a public holiday in WA, there were concerns stores in the Perth metropolitan area would be forced to close for three straight days over the long weekend.
Mr Buswell said industry bodies representing general retail shops, including major department stores, chain stores and big supermarkets, could apply for permits covering their members to trade on the Monday public holiday under the Retail Trading Hours Act.
Under the Act, the Commissioner for Consumer Protection has discretionary powers to issue permits for normal trading on the Monday.
Mr Buswell said trading in the CBD and Fremantle tourist precincts over the long weekend would be approved.
Under the Act, small retail businesses owned by up to six people and employing 13 people or less on any one shift would not be affected, but bigger shops must remain closed on Anzac Day as per normal public holiday rules.
Mr Buswell said if restrictions were left in place, the retail sector would have lost six trading days in the month with Easter falling in April.
“Businesses are under enough stress as it is with the economic downturn,” he said.
“The loss of so many trading days in such a short space of time is the last thing they need.
“I am also mindful of the inconvenience that a three-day closure would impose on consumers.”
Mr Buswell said retailers could make their own decision whether to trade over the long weekend.
Commissioner Anne Driscoll said the move was a common sense way to deal with an unusual set of circumstances.
“We have worked collaboratively with the retail industry to arrive at a practical solution,” she said.
“I believe this arrangement following Anzac Day will provide a win-win outcome both for retailers and consumers.”
Only WA and the ACT will get an additional day off for Anzac Day this year.
The rest of the States will adopt the rule from 2010 when a national agreement will harmonise public holidays whenever Anzac Day falls on a weekend or public holiday.