Retailers hit back at NSW plan to ban shops opening on Anzac Day

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In short:

The NSW government has announced a full-day retail trading ban on Anzac Day in the state.

It follows a review that found most people supported a full-day ban to better recognise veterans.

What’s next?

The changes begin from April 25, 2025. Hotels, clubs, pharmacies and corner stores will be exempt.

Retail trade will be completely banned in New South Wales for Anzac Day beginning from next year.

NSW Premier Chris Minns announced that all traders, including supermarkets, would close for the entirety of Australia’s national day of remembrance.

Mr Minns said while there would be “some disruption and a bit of inconvenience” for some members of the community, it was a “small price to pay” to recognise the significance of the day and honour those who had served.

“We believe there’s been a creeping commercialisation of Anzac Day over a prolonged period of time to the detriment of the importance of the day,” the premier said on Wednesday.

“The nation’s national day is Anzac Day. It is an opportunity for our community to come together to recognise people that have given the ultimate sacrifice in the service of the country that we all live in, and, for the first time in a long time, acknowledge that is a special day that should be set aside for commemoration of that important event.”

RSL NSW President and former commando Mick Bainbridge said the decision was a “great way to ensure we protect the sanctity of Anzac Day”.

“For RSL NSW, we’re very happy about the decision because it will allow our members, our veterans, and their families to attend commemorations in Sydney,” he said.

Soldiers dressed un uniform, holding instruments, ready to start the Anzac Day march in Sydney.

Shops will close in the state for Anzac Day from next year.(ABC News: Taryn Southcombe)

Retail body objects to trading ban

Australia’s peak retail body, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), expressed its disagreement with the government’s decision.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra said retailers in the state had “consistently honoured Anzac Day commemorations” by not opening on the day until 1pm.

“Rather than detracting from Anzac Day commemorations, retailers support community activities and consumer needs,” Mr Zahra said.

“Changing this legislation will not change the way Australians come together on this important day.

“The current approach strikes the right balance, allowing respectful commemoration and consumer choice and convenience, without putting more restrictions on retailers at a time when the sector is doing it tough.”

Mr Zahra said the ARA recognised large retailers as “essential service providers”, particularly for regional areas.

He said the change would also impact workers “relying on public holiday rates to make ends meet during this incredibly challenging economic period”, and make it more difficult for national retailers to manage stores when each state and territory had it’s own set of trade restrictions.

Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra

Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra disagreed with the changes, saying the current restrictions “strikes the right balance”.(ABC News: John Gunn)

Changes sparked by Anzac Day review

The state government said a review into trade during Anzac Day found that the majority of people supported full-day trade restrictions as a way of better recognising veterans.

It also allowed workers to attend events on Anzac Day.

The ban will first take place on Anzac Day on April 25, 2025. 

Hotels, clubs, pharmacies and corner stores will be exempt.

Retail traders were previously required to close until 1pm on the day in NSW. 

There were some exemptions in place for small businesses, markets, cafes and newsagencies.

Western Australia is the only state that currently imposes a full-day ban on trading. Small or special retail shops, service stations and motor vehicle shops are exempt. 

Queensland permits exempt shops such as butcher shops, bakeries, and pharmacies to operate all day. Independent retail shops can open from 1pm. Most large shops like supermarkets and department stores much shut for the entire day.

Victoria allows trading from 1pm, while Tasmania allows trading from 12:30pm. Pharmacies, small shops and service stations are exempt from these restrictions.

South Australia permits shops such as supermarkets and department stores to trade only in Adelaide’s CBD between 12pm and 5pm.

The ACT and the Northern Territory have no trade restrictions on Anzac Day.

The premier also announced a $2 million memorial in Sydney’s CBD dedicated to the veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

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