Double whammy for CBD traders

The previously joyous thoughts of another AFL grand final have turned to despair for city retailers who are about to suffer a double whammy on October 2.

Not only will they have to pay severe penalty rates should they choose to open, city workers won’t be around because the State Government has gazetted a public holiday.

And, to make things even worse, the AFL has re-routed the annual grand final parade along the eastern edge of the CBD.

This year’s parade starts at the Old Treasury Building, travels south down Spring St before turning left into Wellington Pde and making its way to the MCG.

The AFL says the new public holiday played “into a little bit of the thinking” and says it worked closely with the State Government before announcing the new route.

“To finish the parade in and around that environment where families can enjoy a whole day of activity, we think provides a great opportunity,” corporate partners and business manager Richard Simkiss said.

The City of Melbourne says it will evaluate this year’s parade to assess whether the money it contributes continues to activate CBD businesses.

The council’s marketing chair, Cr Beverley Pinder-Mortimer, said she was disappointed that the parade had been re-routed.

“However, it is likely that the tradition will remain and Melburnians will take to the holiday like any other long weekend and find time to stop by for some shopping and dining after the Spring St activities,” Cr Pinder-Mortimer said.

“We hope that the change in the route does not prove to be detrimental to our retail and hospitality sector and will evaluate the success of the 2015 AFL Grand Final Parade in that context.  We will work closely with the AFL to ensure that city businesses continue to benefit from the AFL Grand Final Parade in future years.”

Collins Street Precinct president Mary Poulakis declined to comment, but City Precinct president Gerard Kelly did not hold back.

Mr Kelly said grand final eve had become one of central Melbourne’s biggest days for small business but many would not be able to open this year.

“Penalty rates will make it impossible for some to open,” he said.

Mr Kelly questioned whether Victoria needed another public holiday. Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman said wages could be up to 150 per cent higher on the new holiday.

“Grand Final Friday will have the greatest impact on the profitability of CBD retailers, as workers will not be in the city before AFL Grand Final, diminishing what has traditionally been a peak business period in the Victorian events calendar,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“There will be no wages transfer through higher penalty rates being paid or the traditional net benefit from tourism during AFL Friday as workers and businesses abandon Melbourne CBD to stay at home.”

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