More than 80% of Victorian businesses say they lost out because of the AFL grand final eve public holiday on October 2, according to a survey conducted by the Australian Industry Group.
A post-holiday survey conducted by AI Group of businesses in manufacturing, construction, wholesale and other sectors found 85% reportedly closed for the day.
The survey follows research conducted by the group in the lead up to the day that suggested about three quarters or 77% of businesses expected to close for the day.
The final figures show of those businesses that remained open, 85% reported a loss of revenue, with the average loss being around $57,500.
A further 71% said they incurred additional labour costs including penalty rates and additional hours for workers on other days to make up for lost production on the day.
Regional businesses and communities were also hit hard, the research shows, with many businesses closing and one respondent telling the researchers it was “ridiculous”.
“Half our customers did not know what it was for. (It was) absolutely unnecessary and irrelevant to anyone outside Melbourne,” the person said.
Ai Group Victorian director Tim Piper said the report’s findings are a strong sign the government needs to ensure the public holiday is a “one-off”.
“The verdict is in, Football Friday was a major burden for the state’s businesses and the government needs to rethink any plans for bringing it back next year,” he said.
The introduction of the new public holiday for Victoria was an election commitment of the Victorian Labor government.
Despite significant business backlash and government-commissioned research that also highlighted the costs to business, Premier Daniel Andrews has continuously defended the new holiday and the overall benefits he says the occasion will bring to the economy.
Peter Strong, executive director of the Council of Small Business of Australia, told SmartCompany this morning the findings are not surprising.
“What the government failed to understand (with this holiday) is the impact on individuals in small business,” he says.
“There are hundreds of thousands of people who run businesses in Victoria, and the government stuck their noses up at them.
“The worst thing it did was to say to families of these businesses, you do not count. You will have less money as result of this decision.”
Strong says the situation for businesses represented a “lose-lose”.
“These people had to work or had to pay extra money or had to close and pay people extra money,” he says.
“There may have been some that benefited, but it doesn’t make up for the others.”
Strong believes it is “disgraceful” the Victorian government decided to go ahead with the holiday.
“It’s this union ideology of the 1980s that business is the enemy,” he says.
“The government has a shallow approach to the economy and a shallow understanding of how society works.”