Australia is one of the most expensive countries in which to operate a retail business, according to the latest interim report from the Productivity Commission.

In particular, retailers in Australia are struggling against unnecessary regulations, growing demands for labour and property expenses, the June 6 study revealed.

“Costly regulations are holding business and employment back, like the ongoing restrictions on trading hours on Sundays in South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland,” Commissioner Patricia Scott explained.

“Some regulations don’t make sense – like the requirements for proof of age to buy plastic picnic knives or regulations which effectively mean that a retailer selling both outdoor lighting and indoor lighting faces more restrictive trading hours than one selling only outdoor lighting,” she continued.

Poor regulation and unnecessary red tape is costing the Australian retail industry millions of dollars each year. According to the Queensland Competition Authority, trading hour restrictions cost the state’s economy at least $200 million annually.

“Poor regulation adds to business costs with no commensurate benefit to the community, and puts domestic retailers at a disadvantage to overseas online retailers,” said Ms Scott.

Australian National Retailers Association (ANRA) Chief Executive Office Margy Osmond responded to the figures within the interim report, highlighting her support of extended trading hours.

“It’s pleasing to see the Productivity Commission continue to recognise the importance of trading hours reform and finding a solution to closing the loophole to low value threshold on goods imported from overseas,” she said. “Quite frankly the pace of reform on trading hours is stuck in a time-warp.”

Ms Osmond explained that international research channels had shown Australian consumers relied on global online retailing channels to do their shopping between the hours of 7pm and 9pm local time. As local businesses are unable to open their doors at this time, retailers in Australia are missing huge consumer opportunities.

“There’s no doubt more flexible approaches to trading hours would benefit employees, consumers and the economy. Technology and the changing demands of shoppers means consumers want more choice,” Ms Osmond claimed.

“In light of the interim findings, we urge the States to adopt a Victorian trading hours model. However, ultimately it’s up to the states to decide if Australia is open for business or not,” she concluded.

Insert text here