29 May 2006

Woolworths to take their bat and ball home early?

| Valleyboy
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While waiting in the checkout queue at my local (Conder) Woolworths on Anzac Day eve, I noticed stickers all around advising that, with effect from that day, the supermarket would henceforth be trading until 10pm seven days, instead of until midnight seven days, as had always previously been the general case.

I checked Woolworths’ website on Anzac Day, and there was no indication thereon of abridged trading hours, so I emailed Woolworths’ central administration, and eventually received a personal reply that some stores in the ACT would close at 10pm at least for the winter period, while several would continue trading until midnight. In fact, a check of Woolworths’ (now updated) website shows that:

  • Four of their five northside supermarkets are continuing to trade until midnight (and I don’t know what the previous trading hours of their Charnwood store were).
  • All eight of their southside supermarkets are now closing early at 10pm.

After years of general seven-day trading until midnight at their ACT stores (not sure about Charnwood), it makes you wonder why it’s suddenly become unviable now. After all, they still need to keep stores open for shelf-stackers to do their job, don’t they? It seems even stranger why midnight trading would, after all these years, suddenly become a viability issue in a place like the Lanyon Valley (Conder store), where new housing subdivisions are still being built and the population is continuing to grow, not just with new residents moving in, but also with the conspicuous level of procreation there.

It seems to me highly implausible that demand for late-evening shopping would be so different between the northside and southside that it would warrant maintaining the midnight-trading status quo on the northside, while completely closing down trading on the southside early at 10pm — very implausible indeed.

My suspicion is that Woolworths is testing market waters here on the southside to see if it costs them market share to close their stores early — whether southside late-evening shoppers whose nearest supermarket (of the big two chains) is a Woolworths will change their shopping times to fit in with Woolworths, or whether (like yours truly) they will say “Bugger Woolworths” and take their business to Coles instead, at the accustomed time that suits them to shop.

Depending on market response on the southside, Woolworths may well follow up by taking their bat and ball home early across the northside, too.

In a town in which the competition of 24-hour 7-Eleven-style convenience stores is practically locked out, it wouldn’t hurt Woolworths (like Coles) to reciprocate a little and be there for their customers until midnight. For Woolworths to aggressively buy up most of the either-Coles-or-Woolworths supermarket opportunities in Canberra, and then proceed to shut down much (or all) of their local operation early, is in the same dog-in-the-manger league as a television network that buys up the rights to broadcast sporting events, and then won’t broadcast some of them.

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i just thought i would add that for at least the last 5 years, many woolies across town have tended to close earlier during winter months. they just haven’t really advertised it until now.

Oh and damn its been cold lately, like last night i couldn’t work any longer while out the back dock. My hands were suffering from close to frost bite.

I have a friend that works at woolies in weston creek.. He was told that all the woolies not opposite or close to a coles will close at 10pm.. And that for woolies that were, would stay for competition.

Also being a nightfiller for big W. i have to say its not a bad idea, because you get alot more filling done when you don’t need to worry about customers, or have distractions from checkout chicks. :0

woolies in woden close at 10pm too, but what is worse is they started closing half the gates as early as 8pm on a friday!

Nah, caf – daylight saving fixed that problem for us on the Southside.

Perhaps the trading hours are shorter in winter on the southside due to the shorter days at those southerly latitudes… (TIC)

Ahh yes, the 24 hour supermarket – the only plastic jewel in the southside’s crepe paper, party hat crown.

Canberra has a 24 hr supermarket? Where is this?

Northside gets extended opening hours because northside is clearly the better side of town.

Although not good enough for the sole 24-hour supermarket in Canberra, apparently. 😀

1. What are University students supposed to do at exam time if they can’t wander around supermarkets aimlessly?

2. Northside gets extended opening hours because northside is clearly the better side of town.

Actually, VBman, I haven’t had the “munchies” since sometime back in the 1970s. And I don’t have a dog, either. I’m talking about my normal supermarket shopping here, not spontaneous trips up the street for a packet of Tim Tams. Bear in mind that you do not know all about other people’s working hours and commitments.

But no biggie; it just means that I end up bypassing my local shops and buying my groceries and petrol (different supermarket, so a different petrol voucher) up at the town centre, instead — kind of the opposite effect from what a previous (Liberal) ACT government tried to achieve with restrictive trading hours legislation in an effort to encourage Canberrans to support their local shops.

Thank you for your support.

Vic Bitterman8:32 pm 29 May 06

Let’s face it. Is it life or death that between 10PM and midnight that your munchies needs are satisified? That you need a tin of dog food? Nope.

This is a case of whinging for the sake of whinging. Put a sock in it.

“Dickson Woolies is still crowded as at 11:30 at night.”

Thats because all the hippies have just woken up from their weed-induced afternoon/evening nap and have a serious case of the munchies.

Dickson Woolies is still crowded as at 11:30 at night.

I must admit I do prefer to shop between 10 and midnight.

Apart from a lack of queues at the checkout, shopping late at night at either Woolies (or Coles) can be a bit of an obstacle course as the “shelf stackers” spread out an fill the aisles with boxes. I would hazzard a guess the actually savings in terms of staff would be minimal as I understand that the “stackers” work in to the wee small hours.

Woolies are a business, and as such should make decisions on when to be open based on business need.
That siad, there are always times when I wish my local Woolies was open a bit later!

The only people in Woolies after 11pm are the shelf packers, save for the occasional person of questionable agenda. Of course naturally I have been one of the latter on occasion, how else would I know who is there at those hours?

Honestly though I can’t see much of a reason for stupidly-late trading, and I certainly wouldn’t miss it one iota.

10pm isn’t exactly early – there are still plenty of cities (e.g. Perth) where you’d be lucky to find a supermarket (or corner deli) open after 8pm. I’ve always found the 24 hour Coles in Manuka to be convenient, but in my experience there’s usually hardly anyone in there outside 8am to 8pm, so I can’t see it costing Woolies major amounts of money to close a little early.

Of course, I don’t often go to northside Woolies late at night, so I can’t comment on the situation there.

jamius maximus9:56 am 29 May 06

“Are you a local?? This is a local shop, for local people”

I avoid the duopolists altogether and do most of my shopping at the little local supermarket.

Had seen on signage that these are new “Winter Trading Hours”. Wonder if we’ll see a return to regular hours come spring?

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