Small businesses brace for four consecutive public holidays

LIKE a lot of small businesses, we could see some on the Fraser Coast close over the four-day Easter break or reduce their trading hours.

With the State Government introducing an extra public holiday this year for Easter Sunday, small business owners are bracing themselves for four consecutive public holidays - as well as two further public holidays in the following fortnight.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) General Manager Advocacy Kate Whittle said small businesses will be hit hard in the hip-pocket from having six public holidays falling within three weeks, including Anzac Day (Tuesday April 25) and Labour Day (Monday May 1).

"With the prospect of four consecutive public holidays over Easter (April 14-17), businesses are looking at reducing their opening hours with some closing entirely over the long weekend," Ms Whittle said.

"Collectively, businesses are estimated to lose $32 million in gross revenue. The total economic impact of the creation of an Easter Sunday public holiday for 2017 is estimated to cost the retail, accommodation and hospitality sectors $58.2 million."

CCIQ surveys and modelling found that at least 12 per cent of Queensland businesses which previously opened on Easter Sunday - before it became a public holiday - are now expected to close for the entire period. These businesses would have otherwise opened over the four days.

"The creation of the Easter Sunday public holiday will see just under 5000 retail, accommodation and hospitality businesses across the state closing their doors on the Sunday," Ms Whittle said.

"About 3500 retailers and hospitality businesses which will open on Easter Sunday have indicated they will reduce their trading hours by an average of 4.4 hours.

"Unfortunately, this means they will offer fewer hours of employment to their workforce to offset the additional penalty loadings.

"What this all means is that almost 25,000 employees will no longer receive work on Easter Sunday, while a further 32,000 employees will have significantly reduced hours of work offered to them.

"More than $12 million in earnings will be lost to these employees."

Ms Whittle pointed out that it was often argued small businesses should add a surcharge to offset the expense of increased penalty loadings.

"This is wrong on two fronts," she said.

"Firstly, retail businesses are not able to add a surcharge on to their products.

"Secondly, for accommodation providers and hospitality businesses, it ignores the fact that if you increase the price of a good or service then demand for it decreases.

"Businesses will be forced to either absorb the increase in wage costs or reduce staff levels and opening times to minimise their resultant losses.

"These are not big businesses which remain highly profitable regardless. They are small and family-run businesses, which will take a considerable hit to their income."

Ms Whittle said big businesses were less affected by the consecutive public holidays as their employees were paid rates lower than award rates due to their union-negotiated Enterprise Bargaining Agreements (EBAs).

"The State Government

seemed to have big business in mind when it introduced the new public holiday for Easter Sunday," Ms Whittle said.

"Aside from maybe an increase in tourism expenditure, many businesses would largely see this change as a burden.

"With Anzac Day falling on a Tuesday as well, some businesses could be hit with a double whammy if some employees 'throw a sickie' on that Monday, as occurred when Australia Day fell on a Thursday this year."

CCIQ urged employees to do the right thing and take annual leave on Monday April 24, make it a four-day long weekend, holiday in Queensland and spend their dollars with local small businesses.


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