Background Exercise

Yesterday (Thursday) I received my mark back for the background exercise that I completed two weeks ago in Week 10.

I knew I didn’t write the background feature as well as I did some of my other assessment pieces for Feature Writing, but I still scored a Credit (5), and at university, anything over a Pass (4) is fantastic, so I’m still happy.

The task was to write a background news feature on one of three provided topics, with a deadline of three hours. Read about how I handled this task in my post Too Little Too Late.

Find the article below, unedited from when I submitted it.

 

Is Australia to be a city that never sleeps?

The Australian Government’s draft report on its competition policy review suggests the possibility of Queensland businesses being allowed to remain open all hours. “Full deregulation of retail trading hours is overdue and the remaining restrictions should be removed as soon as possible,” says Professor Ian Harper, chair of the review, as reported by Amy Remeikis of the Brisbane Times.

“The recommendations in the Draft Report seek to bring Australia’s competition policy up to date,” says the Professor in a media release. “Australia’s competition policy needs to be fit for purpose, and updated for the economic opportunities and challenges Australia will face in coming decades. We face forces for change from increased globalisation, population ageing and new technologies, which are rapidly changing the way our markets operate.”

Assumedly, this push for change is to benefit businesses just as much as it is consumers. But Philip Johnston of The Telegraph thinks extending retail hours, especially on Sundays, is an unrealistic goal. “Logic suggests that there is a limited amount of money for people to spend,” he says. “And, while Sunday opening may be more convenient for shoppers, it won’t put any more cash into the coffers.”

Retail staff seem to be of the same opinion. “They (businesses) wouldn’t make enough money to justify staying open and having staff members on,” says Jaye Marchant, retail assistant at Goldmark Riverlink. “I can just see that it would not be good.”

Lengthening trading hours would not be a walk in the park for shopping centres either. Robyn Bannister-Tyrrell of Riverlink Shopping Centre’s Management Office says that Riverlink would have a lot to think about if trading hours were deregulated.

“There would be a lot of considerations, such as leases, what the landlord would want us to do, and what the traders themselves wanted to do,” she says. “You’d have to look at it from a retailer’s perspective. There would be more penalty rates and I’m sure they wouldn’t want that.”

She also thinks that extending retail trading time would be foolish. “Personally, I think it would be disastrous,” she says. “And it’s not like you haven’t got time to go shopping.”

But this debate is far from new. Sami Kajalo published a report almost 10 years ago about the deregulation of retail hours in Finland. “The deregulation of trading hours is a controversial issue also outside Europe, for example, in Australia,” he says, adding that while those in favour of deregulation include some sectors of the retail industry, “trade unions of retail employees are strongly against the deregulation of trading hours.”

However, this debate does have a solid foundation. “Changes in social patterns have contributed to decisions by state and territory governments to liberalise trading hours regimes over time,” says the Australian Government Productivity Commission.

Professor Harper strongly agrees. “Consumers have continued to demand greater diversity in how and when they shop, as is evident in the rapid take-up of online shopping,” he says, as reported by Amy Remeikis of the Brisbane Times. “This provides strong grounds for abandoning remaining limits on retail trading hours.”

And the Professor’s argument is sound. Statistics released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that the number of people aged over 15 years who are using the internet to purchase goods and services is increasing. In 2008-09, only 64 per cent of people were buying online, with this percentage rising to 68 per cent 2010-11. This figure has recently seen a dramatic increase, with 76 per cent of people shopping online in 2012-13.

With the current generation growing up with a piece of technology constantly in-hand, fighting against the online shopping world is a losing battle. Twitter recently announced that they are beginning to test a new way for users to discover and buy products through their website. “Some Tweets from our test partners will feature a ‘Buy’ button, letting you buy directly from the Tweet,” says Tarun Jain, Twitter’s Group Product Manager.

This issue isn’t cut and dry. According to an Australian Government media release, the Competition Policy Review Panel is “holding public forums around the country [and] is also asking for written submission and feedback from interested parties on the views and draft recommendations in the Draft Report”. Professor Harper also encourages “contributions to this important debate about the future of Australia’s competition policy”.

In this heavily digitalised age, is it necessary to completely deregulate retail trading hours to bring “bricks and mortar” retailers up to level with online shopping, or is this another leap in the wrong direction that is brought about by technology?

 

References

Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2014. “8146.0 – Household Use of Information Technology, Australia, 2012-13.” Accessed September 25, 2014. http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/8146.0Chapter32012-13.

Australian Government Productivity Commission. 2011. “Economic Structure and Performance of the Australian Retail Industry.” Accessed September 25, 2014. http://pc.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/113761/retail-industry.pdf.

Australian Government. 2014. “Competition Policy Review – release of Draft Report.” Accessed September 25, 2014. http://competitionpolicyreview.gov.au/2014/09/22/draft-report/.

Jain, Tarun. 2014. “Testing a way for you to make purchases on Twitter.” Accessed September 25, 2014. https://blog.twitter.com/2014/testing-a-way-for-you-to-make-purchases-on-twitter.

Jaye Marchant, Retail assistant at Goldmark

Johnston, Philip. 2012. “The risk of allowing shops to open all hours.” The Telegraph, August 13. Accessed September 25, 2014, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9472694/The-risk-of-allowing-shops-to-open-all-hours.html.

Kajalo, Sami. 2005. “History And Politics Of Deregulation Of Retail Hours In Finland: Theoretical Considerations And Empirical Evidence.” Accessed September 25, 2014. http://www.anzmac.org/conference_archive/2005/cd-site/pdfs/4-Retailing/4-Kajalo.pdf.

Remeikis, Amy. 2014. “Open all hours? Not so fast, says Bleijie.” Brisbane Times, September 25. Accessed September 25, 2014. http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/open-all-hours-not-so-fast-says-bleijie-20140924-10ll8n.html.

Robyn Bannister-Tyrrell of Riverlink Shopping Centre’s Management Office

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