The Dullsvillain

Slinging mud at the media of Dullsville (aka Perth, Western Australia)

Extended trading hours don’t affect me – I just don’t like it: John Cummings

with 4 comments

I want to know exactly how shops closing at 6 o’clock be considered a good thing in this place. So why not go straight to the mouthpiece of the anti late shopping movement, IGA chairman John Cummmings.

He starts with an interesting claim that 96% of stores already can open but don’t.

Is this true? If so, I have never heard Dullsville so perfectly summed up in one statistic! Anyway, on this base, he believes that extend the trading hours will only mean Coles and Woolworths to open longer hours.

And how about the “why not?”

The argument that extended shopping will be forcing small, local-owned business to close is an argument I thought to have a strong effect on the public. I think many people could sympathize this – despite the public’s clearly demonstrate preference for chain stores (maybe something about the importance of signs?)

Anyway, I was fully expected that at least a real-world reason will be the base of the IGA argument.

But no, Mr Cummings does not make this claim – turns out he’s just “philosophically” against late shopping! And yet, as you can see in the interview below, he has no idea about the philosophy behind the regulation that he philosophically agree with. From now on, there is a word, for the philosophy Mr Cummings could not think of:

Behold! Philosophy of Dullsvillianism…

Zhu Hongbing: Could you give your viewpoint on the extend trading hours proposal?

John Cummings: Not needed by consumers because in a referendum 60% of people said no to it, and we don’t think it’s wanted by any retailers but Coles or Woolworths because all other retailers have said they won’t open even if they [the rules] change.

If like you say, the “consumers don’t need, and retailer don’t want”, so why do the IGA stores stay open? Why not close early?

Not many IGAs are actually open till 9 o’clock. There are some IGAs that close at 6, some close at 7, some close at 7.30, some close at 8.

Another question is, in Perth CBD, and in Fremantle, where all stores can stay open till 7, why do all the retailers have their doors closed by 6?

What is the advantage for WA people of having the stores close earlier?

Well, what’s the advantage of the stores in the city closing at 5 or 6 o’clock? What’s the disadvantage? Those same stores shut their doors in Sydney and Melbourne at 6 o’clock as well. Why would Perth be different?

So what is the advantage of having shorter shopping hours?

As i just explained, 96% of all retail shops in WA under current legislation could trade 24 hours a day, 7 days a week if they wanted to. But they choose not to.

Then what is the need for the regulation?

Well why is there need for change?

If they don’t want to stay open, then why do we have the regulation to stop them?

Why do we need to change it if they don’t want to anyway?

I guess the other side would argue that to allow the consumers to shop later in the evening..

Now hang on, there are 2 retailers who want to be open, only Coles and Woolworths.

So you believe if the proposal was passed through the parliament….

There would be only 2 retailers that would be open – Coles and Woolworths.

So you are putting up a proposal to change regulation for the benefit of two retailers. Forget about what the rest of the retailers want. We’re just doing this for the benefit of Coles and Woolworths.

Why do we have the regulation in the first place? To prevent shops from opening too late, right?

Why do we have any regulation? The union movement wished to see regulation in certain areas so that their workforce have some form of a lifestyle. We regulate for licensed premises because of problems of antisocial behaviour and alcoholism. Shopping hours isn’t the only area of Australia that has regulations applied to it.

I just want to get to the bottom of why retail trading hours are regulate in the first place…

Retail trading hours are regulated in every state of Australia.

You can’t say the reason?

The original regulation of trading hours in Australia started before I was born, I don’t know.

I’m not a parliamentarian or a legislator so I honestly can’t answer that.

The regulation is not getting in the way of anybody. The vast majority of retailers in WA don’t see any need for a change to that, except for two, which is Coles and Woolworths. I would contend that the only reason they want to be open longer hours, and there’s been studies done in Australia and overseas that would show that any change to those hours would just see a transfer of business from small locally-owned businesses to those two large retailers.

You mention small locally-owned businesses. What’s the average number of IGAs per owner?

It’s not just IGA stores, we have country Co-ops through to IGA stores in metropolitan Perth who do not open any different hours or longer hours than Coles or Woolworths and who are not agitating for longer hours. They are happy to not open on a Sunday and close at 6 o’clock at night.

Can you say how many close at 6 o’clock on a weeknight or not open on a Sunday?

I haven’t got those statistics. There are many, there are many, several, many IGAs, several, whatever you want to put, that trade the same hours as Coles and Woolworths.

You don’t know if it’s a majority, or just…

It wouldn’t be the majority because the majority of our members tend to be single-operator, small store with small turnover.

What is the average number of IGAs per owner? One store?

One store.

So you [with 3 stores] would be the exception?

There are 3 families that are part owners in 3 stores. Now you can view that one of two ways. Does that mean that I own a chain? There’s 3 of us that are part owners of 3 stores.

Two of my partners are actually related by marriage. Brother-in-law and sister-in-law.

Will your IGA store go out of business if the proposal were enact?

No.

But there is a fear that there may be some IGA that will?

Personally, no, I don’t think so. I don’t see it as an issue that would immediately impact financially on my business in any way shape or form.

I just think it is philosophically wrong. That is my personal view.

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Written by Zhu Hongbing

August 21, 2009 at 4:20 pm

4 Responses

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  1. Translation: “While extended trading won’t have any impact on small business, I am philisophically opposed to shops opening past 6pm”.

    Beautiful, Zhu! It’s amazing that one of the most widely quoted people in favour of the regulation that prevents shops opening late has NO IDEA how regulation works. At all. This guy has the credibility of a fish & chip shop owner on the issue of immigration.

    Even better, he totally jumps the shark with his admission that extended trading won’t hurt IGA. Say he’s right (and he probably is, given that IGA has a presence in every other Godless, extended-trading-friendly state in Aus). Say he’s also right about Coles and Woolies increasing their business with extended trading. The only way both of these things could happen concurrently is if business increased overall – which is exactly what the proponents of extended trading say would happen.

    Cummings is a like prohibitionist arguing that “No one wants to drink anyway”.

    Dick

    August 21, 2009 at 6:51 pm

  2. Everyone who is quoted in the media must be made to justify what they say.

    Why the media never ask this kind of questions? Bet it’s because they already decide the quote they want to publish from Mr Cummings, before he even say the quote!

    In CHina people will say this is the ridiculous feature of western media (e.g. many Chinese people cannot understand why do they give equal space to the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government when the Dalai Lama is nothing more than a terrorist wolf in monk’s robes!).

    However, in this case I think it is just slack media. Cannot just say “well he is opposed to the other side so we will quote whatever he says”.

    Unfortunate, at the time my phone credit runs out just as I would like to ask Mr Cummings to explain his philosophic objection in more details…would be interesting – maybe he can find this blog and engage in the discussion???????

    zhuhongbing

    August 22, 2009 at 12:01 pm

  3. This man is an ignoramus, he has absolutely no idea what he is talking about! I’m glad I’m not in a city where someone like him is hailed as a reliable source of information for a political debate!

    Bolivia is an excellent example of how a lack of regulation on shopping hours effects small businesses – Last year in El Alto (near La Paz) there were 14 000 small businesses registered in every possible market for goods and services you can imagine… Amazingly, despite the supermarkets being open until 10pm every night, there is still a market for the smallest of small businesses in the poorest country in South America!

    Also, “There are 3 families that are part owners in 3 stores. Now you can view that one of two ways. Does that mean that I own a chain? There’s 3 of us that are part owners of 3 stores.

    Two of my partners are actually related by marriage. Brother-in-law and sister-in-law.”
    So… That would be one family (since all the partners are actually related) meaning this one family owns 3 stores. I wonder if he took this liberal interpretation of the family/partner definition into account with his “one store per owner” average! Who knows, theres probably poor, desperate IGA owners struggling by with one store, while their wife also has only one store and their son has just one store, and dont even mention the poor family dog, which is a majority partner in a fourth store.

    Bolivillain

    August 23, 2009 at 6:52 am

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