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Woolworths to take their bat and ball home early?

By Valleyboy - 29 May 2006 21

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.

What’s Your opinion?


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21 Responses to
Woolworths to take their bat and ball home early?
Les Whinin 9:50 am 30 May 06

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

boomacat 9:36 am 30 May 06

Canberra has a 24 hr supermarket? Where is this?

Valleyboy 12:37 am 30 May 06

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. 😀

boomacat 12:26 am 30 May 06

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.

Valleyboy 12:23 am 30 May 06

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 Bitterman 8:32 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.

Les Whinin 2:01 pm 29 May 06

“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.

areaman 12:19 pm 29 May 06

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

jr 12:11 pm 29 May 06

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.

VYBerlinaV8 11:59 am 29 May 06

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!

Les Whinin 11:56 am 29 May 06

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.

Erg0 9:57 am 29 May 06

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 maximus 9:56 am 29 May 06

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

caf 9:41 am 29 May 06

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

bulldog 9:11 am 29 May 06

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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