Lynley Bilby is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Raglan shops defy Easter trading laws

The local Chamber of Commerce estimated around 85 per cent of shops opened their doors. Photo / iStock
The local Chamber of Commerce estimated around 85 per cent of shops opened their doors. Photo / iStock

Nearly every shop at a popular coastal North Island holiday hotspot opened this Easter as yet another tourist community defied trading laws.

The sound of tills rang continuously throughout Raglan's town centre as the prospect of trebling income proved too tempting for retailers cashing in on big-spending visitors to the Waikato community.

The local Chamber of Commerce estimated around 85 per cent of shops opened their doors, deliberately flouting a law that requires most retail shops to close on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Only stores in designated tourist resorts and those supplying critical items are allowed to open.

But Raglan chamber of commerce spokesman Geoff Kelly said it was "madness" to have the closed sign up for half of the longest public holiday before winter.

"All the businesses in Raglan are run by people who live in town so they just decided to stay open independently.

There were so many people in town that it was madness not have your business open," he said.

Mr Kelly said rather than a political measure it was based on "common sense".

"You're a shopkeeper, you look out in the street and the streets are jammed with people milling around wanting to spend their money."

The herbal pharmacy owner said on average shops could easily expect to treble their income over the Easter break.

The tourist centre estimated between 10,000 and 12,000 people visited Raglan.

Over the past seven years more businesses were opening to reflect the increasing number of visitors to the township after a successful advertising drive to bring more people to the region.

"We're attracting people from Auckland like billy-o. They enjoy themselves, they spend money -- as you do when you're on holiday and want to splash a bit of cash. If the shops aren't open they just don't come back," said Mr Kelly.

It was vital for businesses in communities that relied on tourism to be open at busy holiday weekends irrespective of trading legislation, he said.

"We need that money to get us through winter. I told my staff this week we're going to be really, really busy but it's a long time between now and October for another long weekend."

He said opening over Easter meant the difference between keeping staff employed throughout winter when fewer people visited the area.

A Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment spokeswoman said no information was immediately available on enforcement activity by the Labour Inspectorate over shops that traded. That information would be collated over the next two to four weeks, she said.

In the south, Wanaka retailers, awash with thousands of visitors for the Warbirds Over Wanaka Airshow, routinely defy trading laws and open for business during Easter.

- NZ Herald

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