LOCALS and tourists will be able to shop on Sundays by early June, after the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission handed down a long-awaited decision to allow seven-day trading in Bundaberg and Bargara.
In a decision handed down late yesterday after six months of hearings and submissions, the commission concluded that the two areas' tourism bases, growing population needs and employment prospects were among the strongest reasons to allow the trading change.
The change will come into effect from June 5.
One of the loudest cheers came from councillor and Coral Coast Chamber of Commerce president Greg Barnes, who has been campaigning for the move for several years.
"This has made my day," Cr Barnes said.
He said people arguing that small businesses would be affected should bear in mind that supermarkets such as IGA and Foodworks - which were already allowed to open on Sunday - could have as much of an impact as Coles and Woolworths.
"If you have any more than 20 employees you are exempt from seven-day trading, and my argument has always been if you're fair dinkum about saving the corner store, you would make it a maximum of four staff," he said.
The commission agreed, saying in its decision that stores, such as Foodworks and IGA, did not fall under the category of a small business.
The commission held a hearing into the issue in August and representatives from Big W, Mirvac, Spotlight, Target, Woolworths, Officeworks, Coles and Best & Less spoke about the benefits of seven-day trading.
The companies gave evidence that more than 1000 extra hours of work would be provided to Bundaberg employees and many new jobs would be created.
"All witnesses stated that Sunday trade would provide a positive outcome for employment opportunities, particularly for young employees, within the area under consideration," the report stated.
Hinkler Central centre manager Renee Pukallus said she was thrilled with the decision.
"It will allow us to extend our services to a seven-day basis, catering for the shift worker and tourist markets alike, along with providing the opportunity for locals to enjoy an extra day of shopping at their leisure," Ms Pukallus said.
Bundaberg North Burnett Tourism general manager James Corvan also welcomed the decision.
"People expect things to be open on a Sunday," he said.
"Whether it will bring more visitors I don't know, but it does make sure people will have a better time."
Bundaberg businesses will now be able to open on Sundays between the hours of 9am and 6pm
More than 1000 extra hours of work and many new job positions are expected to be created by the change