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Owners to lose out if hours extend

HOW many small business jobs will be lost if Coles and Woolworths win the right to extend their weekend trading hours?

Local small business owners reckon working that out is about as easy as figuring out how many jelly babies are in a jar.

As a sign of their concerns, a group of concerned traders handed over a jar of jelly babies to Sunshine Coast Deputy Mayor Chris Thompson yesterday.

The Queensland Industrial Relations Commission is expected to decide tomorrow if Coles and Woolworths can extend their Saturday trading by two-and-a-half hours.

If successful, the two major supermarket chains, which can currently open from 8am to 5.30pm on Saturdays, will be able to open from 7am to 7pm.

The owners of small independent supermarkets on the Sunshine Coast fear the extension of trading hours will slice into their viability.

Cheryl Denlargen, of the Noosa Outlook IGA, said Saturday afternoon represented a significant percentage of the store's takings which would be under threat if Coles and Woolworths were able to open longer.

"It would be a considerable change in the way

we do business if they were able to be open," Mrs Denlargen said.

"They don't need it but we do."

Mrs Denlargen said anything that affected the viability of small grocers also affected the viability of other small businesses in small shopping centres.

"Most of the IGAs are the anchor tenants in the small shopping strips we're in," she said.

"If we struggle, they struggle. If we go, they go, too.

"And it's not just them. It's the local suppliers - the strawberry growers, the hydroponic lettuce grower.

"If we're not here, I'm not sure who will buy from them."

But Mrs Denlargen said the battle was not over for small businesses even if the Industrial Relations Commission knocked back Coles' and Woolworths' application tomorrow.

She said she thought the major supermarkets would continue to apply for extended hours until they succeeded.

"They'll just keep doing it until we're worn down and have no more resources," she said.

"There's got to be someone who can make a definite decision on this and say, 'That's enough. Go away'."

Category: Trading

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