Christmas Trading Hours For Small Businesses

Wondering what hours your shop should open this Christmas? December is the biggest month of the year for many retailers, with Australians predicted to spend over $60 billion in the pre- and post-Christmas periods.i However, it can be hard to strike the right balance between capturing eager shoppers, and over-rostering staff – and of course, enjoying your own family time. In this article, we discuss some of the things to think about when choosing your trading hours this holiday season.


When am I allowed to open?

Did you know that holiday opening hours are regulated by law? Each state has its own legislation that determines when businesses are allowed to open around Christmas. Not every business is covered by these restrictions however, so it’s important to check the rules in your state carefully.

The NSW, VIC, QLD, and WA regulations generally require shops to close on Christmas Day. SA generally requires shops to close on Christmas and, in metro areas, on Boxing Day. However, some of these states have exemptions for small stores, and certain kinds of businesses such as cafes and restaurants.ii There are no trading restrictions in the ACT and NT.


When will my customers want to shop?

The starting point for determining when your customers will want to buy goods from your store is to think back on your previous year of trading. What were the busy times, and what were the quiet times? Were there any customers who mentioned they wanted to shop at your store, but it was closed?

It’s also important to consider general Christmas trends. The pre-Christmas period is a busy time for retailers, and you may want to consider extending your trading hours even a week or two prior to Christmas day. In 2017, Australian shoppers were estimated to spend $50 billion before Christmas.i Over $20 billion of this was spent on food, with pre-Christmas the peak time for food and beverage retailers.

One of the most important days to extend your trading hours will be Saturday the 22nd of December. A recent study has found that one quarter of Australians plan to do their gift shopping the Saturday before Christmas – and with Saturday this year falling so close to festivities, it’s likely to be a bumper day.iii

Post-Christmas will be a vital time for goods retailers, with $2.36 billion predicted to be spent on Boxing Day alone.i An additional $17 billion is likely to be spent by Australian shoppers nationally in the post-Christmas sales period, so you may want to consider extending your hours until the end of December.iv


What are my competitors and surrounding shops doing?

The opening hours of the retailers that surround you can have a big impact on your foot traffic, especially close to public holidays. It’s worth investigating whether the major grocery stores and retailers in your area will be open. If so, these are likely to attract a steady stream of last-minute shoppers who may also visit your store.

If you own a café or restaurant, and notice your competitors are closing around the holiday period, you may wish to take advantage of the decreased competition by opening your normal trading hours, or even a half day, before and after Christmas.


Am I prepared for the Christmas period?

More shoppers mean more sales, but it also means more risks. It’s important to make sure your store is ready to safely accommodate the increased number of customers. On top of this, the Christmas period is peak time for retail theft, estimated to cost retailers around $1.4 billion in the six weeks before Christmas.v Ensure your staff is ready, and check whether sure your small business insurance policy is up to date, and covers the relevant risks*.


*Allianz Australia Insurance Limited ABN 15 000 122 850 AFSL 234708 underwrites the general ‎insurance cover. We do not provide advice based on any consideration of your objectives, financial situation or needs. Policy terms, conditions, limits and exclusions apply. Before making a decision please consider the relevant product disclosure statement, ‎available online at https://www.allianz.com.au/my-allianz/policy-documents/


  1. SBS News, Records Sales Likely for Xmas, Boxing Day, accessed September 2018, https://www.sbs.com.au/news/record-sales-likely-for-xmas-boxing-day
  2. Workplace Info, Shop Trading Hours, accessed September 2018, http://workplaceinfo.com.au/resources/employment-topics-a-z/shop-trading-hours
  3. News.com.au, Hate Crowds? This Saturday is the Worst Day to Christmas Shop, accessed September 2018, https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/christmas/hate-crowds-this-saturday-is-the-worst-day-to-christmas-shop/news-story/1929f99ae2cbb33ba85c5f6afc9b674f
  4. Australia Retailers Association, ARA Christmas Shopping 2015 Fact Sheet, accessed September 2018, https://www.retail.org.au/mediacentre/ara-christmas-shopping-2015-fact-sheet/
  5. Canstar, Retail Theft Costs Retailers and Households Billions, accessed September 2018, https://www.canstar.com.au/small-business-centre/retail-theft-costs-retailers-and-households-billions/