The AFL Grand Final showdown between Collingwood and the West Coast Eagles this weekend has footy fans across the country excited, but Victorian businesses are expressing mixed sentiments about Friday’s public holiday.
Victorians will get a long weekend starting on Friday to celebrate the Grand Final, while Queensland residents will get Monday, October 1 off for their Queen’s Birthday holiday.
The mismatch has attracted the ire of the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), which says business will suffer higher costs and lower sales.
ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman argues the Victorian government has dropped the ball on its responsibility to look out for local businesses.
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“Retailers can’t afford to open on the Friday, there’s just not the people around in the CBD there used to be,” he tells SmartCompany.
Zimmerman cited Australian Industry Group research, which has predicted a $1 billion productivity loss to business on Friday.
The Australian Industry Group has predicted the Grand Final holiday will cost the economy over $1 billion, but the Victorian businesses SmartCompany spoke to have mixed views on the long weekend.
Family-owned Collingwood cafe Milk Jamm will open on Friday to try and cash in on customers flying in from interstate, or footy fans looking to grab a bite to eat before the game starts.
“People aren’t working, so they’re more inclined to go out and eat,” manager Rhia Ploumidis, daughter of the owners, says.
“We’re happy with the growth we got last year.”
But another business owner, who operates a deli further away from Melbourne’s CBD, says the prospect of higher costs has convinced him to shut up shop on Friday.
“We tried last year, there’s just no business,” the owner, who asked not to be named, says.
The Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), a strident critic of the Friday public holiday, says the holiday involves a “huge financial cost”.
A survey of 500 Victorian businesses carried out by the chamber has found 74% of businesses will choose to close on Friday rather than trade.
“Businesses that open on the day are hit by the significant additional cost of penalty rates, and the ones who choose to close their doors are hit with a huge bill to pay their regular staff not to come to work,” VCCI chief executive Mark Stone said in a statement on Thursday.
Zimmerman has advocated for moving Victoria’s Grand Final public holiday to Monday, which he says would line it up with holidays in other states, limiting the impact on businesses across the economy.
“It would be more logical,” he says. “I’ve been in Melbourne when the [Grand Final] parade happens on Friday and you could not move in the street, it’s not good for business.”
Penalty rates impost
Retail businesses opening on Friday in Victoria are required to pay penalty rates to employees under the General Retail Industry Award 2010.
Casual employees are entitled to 150% of the award rate, while full or part-time employees must receive 125% of their award rate.
This means for level one adult employees, casuals must be paid $51.97 an hour, while comparable full or part-time workers must be paid $46.77 an hour.
Pay levels vary depending on the age of an employee and their work responsibilities. The Fair Work Ombudsman has a pay calculator to help employers determine exact rates.