Verdict is in

It is a financial risk for a small business owner to open on a public holiday.

And it’s one many of the Latrobe Valley’s small business owners did not take this grand final eve.

Many of the region’s small businesses closed their doors on Friday, choosing to lose a day’s income instead of paying penalty wage rates as the state celebrated its second annual grand final eve public holiday.

But for one Traralgon small business owner who took the risk, business was booming.

Iimis Caf owner Stella Aristidou said the grand final eve holiday was “ridiculous”, but her Seymour Street cafe remained open as it trades 365 days a year.

Despite having to pay her 10 staff members penalty rates, Ms Aristidou told The Express business was “very good”.

“We had more customers than normal, we were quite busy,” Ms Aristidou said.

“But it is just ridiculous to have a public holiday on the Friday, it shouldn’t be one.”

While Traralgon appeared to be as busy as ever, Morwell and Moe’s town centres were lacking the usual crowds. Member for Morwell Russell Northe, who has spoken out against the controversial public holiday since its establishment last year, said there were “very few” shops open across the region, as he had suspected.

“The feedback I’ve had from the business community was that they will close their doors, and that seems to be what has occurred,” Mr Northe said.

The holiday had been promoted by the State Government as not “just a great chance to spend valuable time with family and friends” but a “big boost” for small businesses and tourism operators across Victoria.

It deemed last year’s inaugural holiday a success, boasting a 64 per cent increase in overnight intrastate trips across Victoria, an 84 per cent rise in day trips to the state and a $64 million boost to Victoria’s economy.

But Mr Northe said observation and feedback from the business community was “quite the contrary”.

“The Valley’s business owners are definitely against it. They find the public holiday is hardly believable as one,” Mr Northe said.

He said casual workers, including students and mothers, also lost, missing out on shifts and public holiday award rates.

“I don’t understand who it’s benefiting in regional Victoria,” Mr Northe said.

“It just makes no sense. It’s not even on the day of the (AFL) grand final, but the day before.”

Prior to the holiday Acting Premiere Jacinta Allan described the holiday as a “big boost” to tourism.

“Melbourne will be buzzing, and regional Victoria will welcome thousands of visitors,” Ms Allan said.

Data from this year’s grand final eve holiday had not been released by government at the time of print.