Lack of complaints adds weight to Easter rethink

By Kiri Gillespie, Jordan Bond

Jane Debenham, Mount Mainstreet chairwoman and Paper Plus manager, says the current Easter trading law is "archaic" and needs changing. PHOTO/FILE
Jane Debenham, Mount Mainstreet chairwoman and Paper Plus manager, says the current Easter trading law is "archaic" and needs changing. PHOTO/FILE

No complaints were laid about Bay shops flouting Easter trading laws - and business leaders says the lack of concern proves it is time for a law change.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment was not notified of any Bay of Plenty businesses breaking trading laws over Easter weekend. Trading restrictions on Good Friday and Easter Sunday prohibit many shops from opening. Flouting the law can lead to a $1000 fine.

Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stan Gregec said he was aware of stores opening, but said the lack of complaints reflected a changed public attitude toward shopping at Easter.

"I think they are outdated. They haven't kept up with the way our society is changing," he added.

The Shop Trading Hours Amendment Bill currently before Parliament will grant local councils the power to allow shops to open on Easter Sunday.

Good Friday trading laws will not be affected.

Mr Gregec said he supported the bill.

"I think that is a step forward. Easter Sunday is a start - I'm not aware of strong demand for Good Friday, but certainly Easter Sunday takes us forward," he said.

Mr Gregec said two cruise ships full of tourists arrived in Tauranga on Easter Sunday, and both tourists and businesses missed out due to the trading laws.

"I've heard that there was disappointment and surprise. It's not a good look. We want to be offering the best possible experience for tourists that come to town, and having a good range of shopping is part of that experience," he said.

There were 15 Easter trading complaints nationwide - well down on the 42 lodged last year, and the lowest in at least four years.

Mount Mainstreet chairwoman Jane Debenham, who is manager of Paper Plus Mount Maunganui, said the current law was "archaic".

"The Mount is a beach resort and has a huge influx of visitors over Easter. I think everyone did very well," she said.

"I don't agree with people opening on Good Friday and I think there's still some respect there but you should be able to open on Easter Sunday.

"They should leave it to the business owners. People come to a beach resort expecting things to be open. It's personal choice if people don't want to go out and shop."

Retail New Zealand spokesman Greg Harford agreed the current Easter trading laws were "completely archaic".

"We're really supportive of moves to liberalise trading over Easter.

"We have got some concerns about the specific legislation the Government has in the house, mainly around the bylaw giving power to local authorities," Mr Harford said.

He said the Government should have taken the opportunity to present a bill changing the law nationwide.

The bill - expected to be in place by Easter 2017 - would allow any employee to refuse to work on Easter Sunday "without giving a reason".

Days shops are required to be closed
Christmas Day
Good Friday
Easter Sunday
Anzac Day, until 1pm
- employment

Exceptions: stores allowed to trade
Service station
Duty-free store
Real estate agency
Garden centres
A shop in a premises where
an exhibition or show is
taking place.
A shop selling only
- employment

- Bay of Plenty Times

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