Sunday Trading 1400 Jobs Bonus

By Greg Kelton

October 6, 2003

SOUTH Australia's leading retailers are about to embark on an extensive jobs advertising blitz to prepare for new Sunday trading laws.

Up to 1400 full and part-time jobs are expected to be advertised over the next few weeks.

The estimated jobs growth is the outcome of talks between Premier Mike Rann and retailers Woolworths, Coles-Myer and Harris Scarfe on the eve of the introduction of the new shopping hours. All suburban stores will be able to open on Sundays from October 26 the first day of daylight saving.

Currently they can remain open only until 9pm Monday to Friday but from October 26 will also be able to open between 11am and 5pm on all Sundays except Easter Sunday.

Mr Rann said yesterday that after talks in Sydney with Westfield and Woolworths, both agreed the new hours would boost business and community confidence in SA. Australian Retailers Association chief executive Stirling Griff said the 1400 jobs were "just the tip of the iceberg".

He said a recent survey of association members showed up to 5000 new jobs would flow over the first 12 months of extended trading. "There is absolutely no doubt it will lead to between 5000 and 8000 new positions in the next 12 to 18 months," Mr Griff said.

Mr Rann said both Woolworths and Westfield were "excited" about the extra jobs and economic activity that would be generated by Sunday trading.

He said Woolworths chief executive Roger Corbett had told him the company intended to hire 800 staff in full and part time jobs.

"I am also told Coles-Myer will recruit 500 full and part-time workers and Harris Scarfe will put on an extra 100 workers plus 100 others in the lead-up to Christmas," Mr Rann said.

"Other retailers are expected to hire more staff. This is terrific news coming on top of the latest unemployment figures showing SA has more people employed now than at any other time in our history and the lowest unemployment in decades."

Mr Rann said he expected spin-off effects on other SA companies would also be significant.

"Woolworths has made it clear it will substantially increase purchases of SA products to cater for increased retail turnover and is expanding staff at its distribution centre," he said.

Woolworths already buys $108 million in local fruit and vegetables a year.

Mr Rann also urged Woolworths to use the new Darwin-Adelaide rail link to supply their NT outlets from SA.

Harris Scarfe chief executive Robert Atkins said the store had carried out a recruiting campaign in June and July.

"We got in early to make sure we could get the staff we are going to need," he said.

"We are looking forward to it (Sunday trading)."

Shop Distributive and Allied Trades Association secretary Don Farrell said his union's membership had increased 16 per cent during the past 12 months.

"Indications at the moment is there is an upswing in employment," he said.

"I don't know whether it can be attributed entirely to the advent of Sunday trading."

Mr Farrell said there was "a fair bit of growth" in the retail sector because of varying factors such as the economy influencing people to spend more.

He said there was also a trend away from casual work in the retail sector with companies now offering permanent part-time work to staff.