Shop trading hours

An overview of state and territory shop trading laws.

Most states have legislation that regulates the trading hours of shops. Section 27 of the Fair Work Act lists the categories of state or territory laws that are not excluded by the Fair Work Act. One of the non-excluded matters refers to laws that relate to ‘business trading hours’.
Historically, state governments have had laws restricting shop trading hours for a number of reasons, including observance of the Sabbath and to reduce the need for shop employees to work outside traditional work hours.
State and territory shop trading laws
In the Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory trading hours are unrestricted, but in the states there are various arrangements, including designated days for late night shopping during the week and restrictions on Sunday trading. State laws supporting these restrictions also differentiate between businesses on the basis of size, location, or the product sold.
Mostly small local shops are exempt from trading hours restrictions, while larger stores are prevented from trading at certain times. The following is a summary of the relevant state and territory laws which regulate shop trading hours:
Australian Capital Territory
Trading hours in the Australian Capital Territory have been deregulated since the repeal of the Trading Hours Act 1996 [ACT] on 29 May 1997.
New South Wales
Under the Shop Trading Act 2008 [NSW], other than restricted days, there are no restrictions on shop trading on any day of the week, including any Saturday, Sunday or late evenings. ‘Restricted trading days’ are defined under the Act to mean:
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Sunday
  • prior to 1 pm on Anzac Day
  • Christmas Day
Shops that are small shops or exempt shops within the meaning of the Act are permitted to trade on a restricted trading day.

Trading on Boxing Day is subject to the condition that all persons working in the shop freely elect to do so without coercion, harassment, threat or intimidation.
Northern Territory
Trading hours in the Northern Territory are deregulated, with no statutory restrictions imposed.
The trading hours of shops in Queensland are regulated by way of the Trading (Allowable Hours) Act 1990 supported by the Trading (Allowable Hours) Regulation 2004 and various trading hours orders made by the Queensland Industrial relations Commission. Generally, the minimum allowable trading hours throughout Queensland are:
  • 8.00 am to 9.00 pm Monday to Friday
  • 8.00 am to 5.00 pm Saturdays (extended hours may apply in certain areas)
Different extended trading hours apply on Sunday and certain public holidays. Hours of trade will depend on the classification of shops. Shops are mainly classed as:
  • exempt shops — trading hours are totally unrestricted
  • independent retail shops — predominantly food and/or grocery shops and generally have unlimited trading hours, although certain restrictions apply on specific public holidays
  • non-exempt shops
Factories and shops in Queensland are required to close on Anzac Day, although certain shops can trade on this day.
South Australia
The Shop Trading Hours Act 1977 [SA] regulates the trading hours of retail shops in South Australian ‘shopping districts’. These shopping districts consist of the Greater Adelaide Shopping District and 37 proclaimed shopping districts located in country areas.
Shops in the Greater Adelaide Shopping District can trade:
  • until 9.00 pm Mondays to Fridays
  • until 5.00 pm Saturdays
  • between 11.00 am and 5.00 pm Sundays
Shops in proclaimed shopping districts can trade until:
  • 6.00 pm Mondays to Wednesdays and Fridays
  • 9.00 pm on Thursdays
  • 5.00 pm on Saturdays
Some shops are exempt from the Act because of the types of goods that they sell, eg newsagents.
All non-exempt shops (eg supermarkets, department stores) are unable to open on public holidays. Non-exempt shops are also required to remain closed on 1 January, Easter Sunday, 25 December and 26 December each year. Exempt shops, ie smaller shops, may trade without restriction.
The Shop Trading Hours Act 1984 [Tas] determines the trading hours of retail shops in Tasmania. Trading hours in Tasmania have been deregulated since 1 December 2002, with shops only being required to close on Christmas Day, Good Friday and ANZAC morning.
Trading hours in Victoria are regulated under the Victorian Public Holidays & Shop Trading Act 2010 [Vic]. This Act specifies that there are three and a half restricted trading days each year. These are: Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Christmas Day, and before 1pm on Anzac Day. On these particular days, only exempt shops are permitted to open.
Exempt shops are businesses that meet the following criteria:
  • they have 20 or fewer persons employed in the shop at any time during a restricted trading day
  • the number of persons employed by the business and its related entities is no more than 100 at any time during the 7 days immediately before the restricted trading day
On Easter Sunday hardware stores and plant nurseries, irrespective of employee numbers, may also choose to open.
Certain types of businesses are exempt from any restricted trading days. They can open whenever they wish throughout the year. The types of businesses that are exempt are: chemists, petrol shops, restaurants, cafes, takeaway outlets, service providers and hire outlets (including video stores).
Western Australia
The Retail Trading Act 1987 [WA] applies to retail shops in Western Australia south of the 26th parallel. It sets out the trading hours and rules for various categories of retail outlets. Trading hours of restaurants, cafes and takeaway food shops are not covered by the Act.
‘Small retail shops’ (ie owned by up to 6 people who operate no more than 3 shops, in which up to 13 people work at any one time) can trade 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
‘Special retail shops’ eg newsagencies, pharmacies) can trade between 6.00 am and 11.30 pm, every day of the year.
General retail shops — Perth metropolitan area (also see special trading precincts):
  • 8.00 am to 9.00 pm Monday to Friday
  • 8.00 am to 5.00 pm Saturday
  • CLOSED, Sunday
  • CLOSED, public holidays
Special trading precincts
Expanded general retail hours are available to shops in the Special Trading Precincts of Armadale, Fremantle, Joondalup, Midland and Perth. The specified trading hours for these precincts are:
  • 8.00 am to 9.00 pm, Monday to Friday
  • 8.00 am to 5.00 pm, Saturday
  • 11.00 am to 5.00 pm, Sunday
  • 8.00 am to 5.00 pm, public holidays except Christmas Day, Good Friday and Anzac Day


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