QIRC decision benefits existing duopoly

Friday 14 October, 2016

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry (​CCIQ) believes today’s decision by the QIRC to ‘liberalise’ trading hours in South East Queensland has abandoned small businesses.

Director of Advocacy Nick Behrens said CCIQ was disappointed with this decision as it fails small businesses and community-based supermarkets in Queensland.

“Small businesses and community-based supermarkets previously enjoyed a narrow window of opportunity being able to trade 7am to 8am Monday to Saturday and 5pm to 9pm Saturday, when Coles and Woolworths could not. This small but vital advantage has now been taken away," he said.

“By gaining the extra hours of trading the already uneven playing field has been further tilted in the favour of the big end of town.

"All of the unfair advantages that the Coles and Woolworths duopoly have remain including poor conduct with their supply chain, not having to pay penalty rates though dodgy enterprise agreements and being able to sell alcohol directly adjacent to the supermarket through the bottle shops they own.

“Any benefit to the economy from this decision accrues solely to Coles and Woolworths.

“Coles and Woolworths are repeatedly lodging applications to the QIRC to liberalise trading hours and they are marching unimpeded towards their goal  of deregulation and total market dominance.

"The system is stacked against small business and obviously the QIRC has failed to take into account their decision will only further increase the market share of the food and grocery duopoly.

"In such a situation, nobody wins in the long term; not the supply chains, not the consumers and not the small businesses that provide retail alternatives.

“Collectively this duopoly already has 70 per cent market share in food and grocery and the Trading Hours Allowable Act is one of the only instruments to stop this form growing even larger.

“CCIQ’s firm position is that the QIRC should no longer have responsibility for determining trading hours as in reality they are a servant of corporate Australia.

“This decision essentially creates a battle ground around the table of the State Government’s Shop Trading Hours Review Reference Group.

“CCIQ will be siding with small businesses and community based supermarkets who have the unenviable task of competing against Coles and Woolworths.

“It’s a David and Goliath battle and David has just had his slingshot taken off him.”

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