Shops will be allowed to open across the Western Bay of Plenty on one of the holiest days on the Christian calendar.

The Western Bay District council this week voted unanimously to allow trading on Easter Sunday - bringing the district into line with the earlier decision by the Tauranga City Council.

Councillor Margaret Murray-Benge said it was a sensible decision because shops did not have to open if they did not want to.

Read more: Opinion: Easter trading a boon - for some
Council votes 'yes' on Easter Sunday trading

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''It is about the freedom to choose.''

She said it was a service to the community and reflected the growing trend for people to buy fresh every day.

Murray-Benge said it was a pity that the Government dumped the decision on councils instead of making a decision on behalf of the whole country.

The vicar of Gate Pa's St George's Anglican Church, the Rev John Hebenton, said the Western Bay council did not have any choice but to make that decision, given Tauranga's earlier decision.

''I am disappointed.''

He said Tauranga City Council's survey could have been read to say that the majority wanted to retain the status quo of not opening on Easter Sunday. A minority of respondents recognised that there was already widespread opening at Mount Maunganui.

Hebenton said although in theory retailers could choose not to open, he was not sure how that would operate in reality. If one shopping centre opened, then the others would feel they had to open as well.

And with a lot of retail workers not well paid, they would have little say on whether they worked or not, he said.

''The days when people were more important than profit had gone from three-and-a-half days every year to two-and-a-half days.''

It left Christmas Day, half of Anzac Day and Good Friday as days when shops had to close.

The report to this week's district council meeting said comments from submitters supporting Easter Sunday opening were about individual choice of whether or not to shop. Shop staff had the right to choose not to work on Easter Sunday.

''Conversely, comments received in opposition pertained to the importance of the religious day itself, there were only 3.5 days in the year where shops closed, and that workers did not receive sufficient time off to have with their families.''

The council received 54 written submissions, with several arguing that opening would create a level playing field with online shopping

Tauranga City Council supported Easter Sunday trading by seven votes to three.

Breakdown of Easter Sunday trading submissions

Supported trading:

67 per cent

Opposed trading:

33 per cent

Trading in parts of the district:

6 per cent