HUNTER shoppers’ race for a bargain will enter a new era this year, following a state decision to permanently allow retailers in suburban and regional NSW to trade on Boxing Day.
Over the past two years, a trial was conducted which allowed retailers to open on Boxing Day temporarily, and that experience has Hunter stores expecting big crowds.
Before the two-year trial thousands of retail shops were unable to open while shops in Sydney CBD were allowed to trade all day long.
Following the trial’s success, legislation was passed in September granting regional retailers the right to throw open their doors.
Hunter Business Chamber CEO Bob Hawes said having the option to trade was a big boost for local businesses.
“This new legislation provides for retailers everywhere and ensures that local economies benefit from the trade,” Mr Hawes said.
“New South Wales Business Chamber feedback from retail members, following the two year trial, showed there were big benefits to opening on Boxing Day.
“The legislation also provides important protections for retailers in shopping centres as well as employees who would choose not to work on Boxing Day.”
Veteran retailer Colin Scott, who runs Frontline Hobbies on Hunter Street, said his store opened last year for the first time in 39 years, but will only open if his staff wish to work.
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“We decided to give it a go,” Mr Scott said.
“We had no previous track record, but it was certainly worth opening.
“These days, business have to be competitive.
“The Sydney stores were always full-on extended hours, so at least we have the opportunity to compete.”
Charlestown Square will operate extended trading hours from 8am to 6pm and are expecting people to be lining up at the doors before they open.
“Boxing Day is our number one busiest day, so it's proven popular with the public given it's become a permanent arrangement,” general manager Dwight Hodgetts said.
“A lot of people get gift cards for Christmas and the sales begin, not everyone's interested in the cricket either.
“This Christmas we've seen record numbers, our traffic numbers are up and we're expecting sales numbers to be up as well.
“Shop early or late, it tends to get busy around 11 through to one. If you’re looking for the most pleasant Boxing Day shopping experience, come early or late.”
Over at Westfield Kotara, they’re also opening from 8am to 6pm.
“We’re also offering extended trade on Boxing Day so shoppers have a bit more time to take advantage of some fantastic retail offers,” a Westfield spokesperson said.