Monday, 18 June 2018

1971: The Birth of Thursday Night Shopping

Coverage from The Daily Telegraph on December 11, 1971.

Extended retail trading hours in Sydney have their origins back in 1971, but not in the way one might see it. It was introduced in response to industrial action by Government bus drivers in November and possible industrial action on the rail network. With Christmas nearing, retailers had lost a significant amount of trade.

Above: The industrial action that bought on the changes...
To support retailers, The Askin Government quickly passed legislation to permit retailers to trade through to 9pm on December 16, 23 and 30, 1971.

Sydneysiders voted with their feet to the introduction of night shopping. Traffic in central Sydney was in bedlam on the night of December 16, 1971.


Above: Coverage from the December 17, 1971 edition of The Daily Telegraph. 

In 1972, the Shop Assistants Union called for night trading to be shifted to Fridays. The union wanted an end to Saturday trading altogether. Shop Assistants under the new regime would work five day weeks e.g. 5.5 days one week and 4.5 days on alternate weeks. Some retailers also called for the end of Thursday night trading, claiming that it had led to a drop in profits.

This was despite retailers such as Franklins reporting increased customers and profits i.e. 14 % of weekly trade was now on Thursday night across its supermarkets.

The Sydney Morning Herald supported the shoppers in its editorial on July 15, 1972. It gave Sydneysiders another option to shop at their own pace during a normal week and could avoid the Saturday rush as shops were permitted to trade through to 12pm.

A decade later in 1984, there was an attempt to extend night trading to Friday evenings but was not successful. Meanwhile, Saturday afternoon trading was introduced to great success. I remember as a young child that shops closed at 4pm on Saturdays.

Fast forward to today, where retailers are free to trade as they wish under the Shop Trading Act (2008) [NSW] except on restricted trading days which are:
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Sunday
  • Christmas Day
  • Anzac Day (until 1pm)
In 1992, Coles commenced trading 24 hours during the week at selected stores, though it is no longer in practice with midnight closings. Other supermarket chains followed with extended trading throughout the 1990s.

Other retailers have moved towards longer trading hours in the past decade. Kmart in 2009 commenced 24-hour trading at selected Sydney stores. 

Myer in the Pitt Street mall trades until 7pm most evenings with later trading on Thursdays (9pm) and Fridays (8pm). David Jones also trade similar hours in their city stores. 

The deregulation of trading hours during the week (and weekends) has benefited shoppers in providing flexibility to shop when needed and accommodates the myriad of commitments that one may have during the week.

Related Entries on Retail Trading Hours

1992: Introduction of Sunday Trading
1984: Introduction of Saturday afternoon retail trading

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