Matthew Backhouse

Matthew Backhouse is an APNZ news reporter based in Wellington.

Easter trading laws 'archaic' - garden centres

File photo / Thinkstock
File photo / Thinkstock

A garden centre business which each year defies strict Easter trading laws has described them as "archaic" and has pledged to continue to open over the long weekend as long as its customers demand it.

Labour inspectors from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment were checking in on retailers today to monitor compliance with a law prohibiting them from opening on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

That includes garden centres like Oderings, which has stayed open for its annual sale on every Good Friday since 1972.

Oderings director Darryn Odering today said he would continue to defy the law.

"I consider them archaic. Until 1990, we could trade legally on any day we like. But when they liberalised the shop trading law in 1990, garden centres got left off the list of shops that were exempt."

Mr Odering said a 2001 law change had allowed garden centres to legally open on Sunday.

"That in itself, as far as I'm concerned, is an admission that the politicians got it wrong in 1990. We feel quite aggrieved that we've lost that right."

Mr Odering said the shops would not remain open without demand from the public.

"A lot of people garden on long weekends, especially before the winter. It's a great planting time."

The Shop Trading Hours Repeal Act 1990 contains some exceptions to allow certain business - including pharmacies, duty-free stores and real estate agencies - to remain open.

Cafes, bars and restaurants are also allowed to open, but only if they sell prepared or cooked food that is ready to be eaten immediately.

But most other shops risk a $1000 fine if they open their doors today.

In December, a District Court judge fined the company $10,000 and and ordered it to pay $1328.90 in costs for opening all 10 of its stores on Good Friday last year.

Speaking in Christchurch District Court, Judge Raoul Neave described Oderings' decision to stay open as "cynical".

Mr Odering said today that while Judge Neave was entitled to his opinion, "if I look at the thousands of customers who come through my doors today, I think he's out of touch".

Last Easter, 41 shops were found to be open and 30 businesses were convicted for breaching the law.

Labour inspectors visited 64 shops around the country based on complaints, previous prosecutions or warnings, and advertisements stating they would remain open.

The law also applies to most shops on Christmas Day and Anzac Day until 1pm.

- APNZ

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