Australian Newsagency Blog

A blog on issues affecting Australia's newsagents, media and small business generally.

Labour costs will see stores close this Easter

April 23rd, 2011 · 23 Comments

The marathon holiday period which we are in the middle of this weekend will see some newsagencies choose to close rather than lose money trading such a long period of public holidays.  Paying a casual employee $40 an hour and more in a business with a grow profit of 32% on a day when Australians are not in shopping mode is not viable.  Sure, newsagent owners could choose to work. However, many already more 70 and 80 our weeks for a take home of less than $50K a year.

My view is that the penalty rate regime is out of whack with today’s economy, especially in businesses like ours where we cannot control the price of much of what we sell.


Category: Newsagency challenges

23 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Allan Wickham // Apr 23, 2011 at 8:17 AM

    Would be nice if we could trade like Restaurants, Motels and the like and add a Public Holiday surcharge to the price of our regulated products. I think it is time for some sort of reform on PH rates. The workers of the country actually miss out on hours because of PH rates because many small business owners will elect to do it themselves rather than bring in people who would normally work. So these people end up with less money in the paypacket therefore less money to spend in the community. All in all a lose/lose situation really.


  • 2 BAZ // Apr 23, 2011 at 1:14 PM

    On one hand you have people who want to work, and employers who want to trade…then you have the people who determine the penalty rates based upon what formula I don’t know.. we are all different businesses and time should have been taken to assess the impact on those that have requirements for early and late working staff. If you have to start a person at 4.30 am til 10am you have to pay $25 an hour until 10 because they started half an hour before 5am!! How fair work is that.


  • 3 Brett // Apr 23, 2011 at 1:37 PM

    If you are in a retail business that has 400% margin you pay the same wages as retail at 20% margin. This is called Fair Work – Australia


  • 4 Steven // Apr 23, 2011 at 1:44 PM

    I closed on friday because of the wage problem. Today I thought I could run the shop myself, but had to call in a casual staff member because of the ongoing rush of people.


  • 5 Luke // Apr 23, 2011 at 1:47 PM

    We are in a rural CBD and today about 90% of the shops are closed and this will be the same over the next 3 days because the owners say they cannot justify the wages to the amount of shoppers they would attract.

    We will be open on the public holidays simply because I cannot afford not to be but I have told the staff to take the time off and will be doing everything between the two of us.
    We are doing about a normal Sat trade which is good concsidering but this would be negative if I had to pay extra wages.
    Damned if you do damned if you don’t.

    Most of my trade today has been workers from the other closed shops complaining about everything being closed, great isn’t it.


  • 6 Steven // Apr 23, 2011 at 3:10 PM

    Just as a matter of interest, has anyone had problems with HWT or Fairfax for not opening? They always send us the fax stating we must open, but other newsagents I know don’t open on most public holidays (some never open on any given sunday.)

    One day we had to close on a public holiday for personal reasons, and our rep called the next day and gave a nice speech about our contractual obligations.

    The customers were still able to get the Herald Sun and the Age at the supermarket next door.

    Just wondering if anybody else has had problems like this.


  • 7 Jarryd Moore // Apr 23, 2011 at 3:50 PM

    Agreed. Penalty rates are as they currently exist are not reflective of the modern economy, nor the expectations of employees or consumers.

    The majority of retailers are not asking for people to be forced to work on public holidays, only that we don’t have to pay exorbitant amounts to those that are willing to work.

    I would say we are one of the lucky stores that can financially justify opening this entire weekend because we still do a large trade (being inn the middle of a exude tusk area helps) and we have a number of managers on salary that don’t come under the award. This helps in lowering our overall labour costs over the long weekend. Most stores aren’t in our position.


  • 8 Mark // Apr 23, 2011 at 3:59 PM

    Brett it happened long long before Fair Work.


  • 9 Jarryd Moore // Apr 23, 2011 at 6:36 PM

    *exude tusk area = residential area … stupid iOS auto correct


  • 10 Brett // Apr 24, 2011 at 1:25 AM

    Mark, not in Qld


  • 11 Mick // Apr 24, 2011 at 8:18 AM

    Yes in Qld


  • 12 BAZ // Apr 24, 2011 at 11:15 AM

    As I have said in another place..according to the Australian last week, 7 of the last 8 appointees to Fair Work Australia were Union Officials, or have a Union background. I am told we are in for yet another demand from the ACTU,watch FW rush to get that one through. Small business must be allowed to make a dollar..without the Employer…THERE IS NO WORKER !!!!!!


  • 13 Mark // Apr 24, 2011 at 4:03 PM

    The issue of penalty rates has little to do with Fair Work Australia and, I suspect, little to do with party politics. It goes to the heart of what is fair pay.

    I have a friend in the US working in retail and happy to be making under $10 an hour for which they would receive $21 an hour + super here.

    In some areas, we are pricing ourselves out of business. This is where the discussion needs to begin.


  • 14 Jarryd Moore // Apr 24, 2011 at 5:07 PM


    The move to a national IR and award system began with WorkChoices.


  • 15 Brett // Apr 25, 2011 at 12:51 AM


    I agree completely. But do not agree that is is little to do with party politics. We shall see.


  • 16 KMc // Apr 26, 2011 at 7:45 AM

    We had a good trading weekend, especially Saturday. Even so it would not have been worthwhile if we had have had to pay staff for the time they would have been normally rostered on for.

    We ran short handed and even then we reckon it was a zero sum equation on a revenue cost calculation.

    The government seriously needs to look at penalty rates for seasons like this.

    In terms of customer expectation we’re not just a business, we provide an incredibly important community service.

    It would also be good if Newspaper publishers shared the pain. Our home delivery operation couldn’t be operated shorthanded because there weren’t any less papers to deliver. We ripped up serious money in this area, again by simply fulfilling customer expectations and publisher obligations.


  • 17 Carol // Apr 26, 2011 at 12:48 PM

    Our papers are delivered by bus or courier but both did not run on Sunday and Monday because of staffing costs. I was happy to have Good Friday off and just the two of us work Satday with excellant trading then two days strait holidays which is more than I have had in 10 years. We are refreshed and I played lots of golf.


  • 18 vaughan // Apr 26, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    I have been saying for over 5 years now that the penalty rates on Saturday and Sundays are bullshit! We have been trading on a Saturday for over 20 years; yet the penalty rates remain the same.
    In my view Retail penalty rates for a Saturday morning should be zero and afternoon rates at 1.25. Sunday should be 1.25 all day. Drivers rates should be at 1.25 prior to 4.00am and normal rates thereafter; not the bullshit shift rate that is currently applicable!
    I don’t have a problem with penalty rates on Public Holidays, I just wish there was less of the bloody things!


  • 19 Derek // Apr 27, 2011 at 10:36 AM

    Mark “However, many already more 70 and 80 hour weeks for a take home of less than $50K a year”

    I thought that was a great acknowledgement to the many Newsagents who are in this bracket. This Industry is championed by hard and tired business owners. Sometimes Newsagents are put in a Rock & a hard place especially if Trading is necessary for business reasons during these P/H’s.


  • 20 KMc // Apr 27, 2011 at 11:47 AM


    You are quite right. The actual pay is not really unfair for individual employees who give up their holiday weekends.

    Actually what is unfair is our principals’ expectations imposed upon us to provide full services over the period of the penalty rates being incurred – without any contribution to the additional costs.

    What also needs to be looked at is how the government gazettes public holidays. Having 4 public holidays within one trading week is a huge impact on any small business.

    It seems the small business end has been given (again) the last and the least consideration by big players.


  • 21 Brett // Apr 27, 2011 at 12:43 PM

    We need permission to tack on costs as resturants and others do to cover costs


  • 22 PETER // Apr 27, 2011 at 1:49 PM

    i should have gone home after the paper run and left the papers on the step with a honesty box on good friday..,..
    the rest of the weeekend was alright because i promoted our restricted opening hours well for weeks and trained the customers to come in early


  • 23 Hz // Apr 27, 2011 at 5:03 PM

    I am even more radical than Vaughan, I happen to think that no-one should get any penalty rates until they have worked 37.5 hrs in the week(or whatever a full week is according to their award) !!!
    We had one staff member for 5hrs Sat am and did the rest ourselves, closing early. Enjoyed some nice sunny arvos :))


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