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As a consumer, buying a loaf of bread when it suited me was once my “right”, but now I can only shop with the permission of the government.

We should not be prevented from buying a litre of milk or a pair of shoes whenever we want, if there is a shop willing to sell it to us. What authority does the government have to dictate the time of day that a customer can purchase something?

What happened to the customer always being right?

Flexible shopping hours will provide the people of Perth with the choice, convenience and lower costs they deserve.

For a standard basket of goods, Perth is the most expensive capital city after Darwin. Compared to Sydney, shoppers in Perth are spending $15 more for these standard groceries. This is outrageous, and the customers of Perth should not take this lying down.

A “level playing field” among supermarkets will greatly increase competition. If all stores have the right to open later at night, compared to a “select few”, then the price of goods will be driven down.

One argument doing the rounds is that the majority of people in Perth don’t want longer shopping hours, as was seen in the referendum 4 years ago. In an unregulated, free market the market sends ‘buying signals’ to show when shops should be open and when they should close. Government controls simply hinder these market ‘signals.

Just because one person doesn’t want or need to shop outside of normal trading hours, doesn’t mean that their next door neighbour wouldn’t want to grab the milk and bread at 8.30pm. And they should have that option.

The debate for longer shopping hours is being fought by lobby groups for the large retailers, the independent grocers and the producers. Don’t let them fool you into thinking that the customer’s rights should come secondary to the rights of any other group.

We need to remember that this debate should not be about small business versus big business or Perth as a backward and sleepy state, but simply about the rights and freedom of choice of customers.

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