Inaction at illegal trade riles retailer

By Patrick O'Sullivan

1 comment

A Hastings retailer has been told his complaint to the Department of Labour about a shop that broke the Easter trading laws will not result in a prosecution, even though he has clear evidence.

Bruce Dye visited his closed emporium Starting Out in Heretaunga St West on Sunday and says he discovered the emporium opposite, 1 2 & More, was flouting the law.

He said he was not a religious man but believed in one law for all.

"When I rang the Labour Department the message was, sorry we are on holiday. That wound my clock up," he said.

The Shop Trading Hours Repeal Act 1990 requires shops to close on Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and until 1pm on Anzac Day every year.

Alun McGowan, practice leader at the Department of Labour, told Hawke's Bay Today that inspectors had visited the offending store but the department was unlikely to prosecute.

"Where complaints are received after the restricted days, and the shops were not visited by inspectors on the days in question, then it would not be usual to seek prosecution and a warning would be more common," he said.

He said a breach of the act is an offence which has to be proven in court like any other criminal offence.

"The department will decide to prosecute based on the evidence it has gathered and based on legal advice. The elements of the offence under the act are that the entity is a shop within the definition of the act, that it is open for business on a restricted day and does not come within any of the exemptions in the act, such as pharmacies or shops selling souvenirs, or those historic area exemptions listed in the schedule to the act."

Mr Dye says he has irrefutable evidence of the breach, after receiving a dated receipt for plastic flowers and a chocolate bunny and taking a photograph.

"It's shocking that nothing seems to be done about it. I may as well open and just get a warning also - his shop was packed," he said.

The other store owner Haary Kumar said being open on Easter Sunday was a mistake.

"We didn't know it was against the law, that's why it happened," he said.

"We have never been given any information saying we could not open."

He said he could not remember if he opened last year on Easter Sunday but it would not happen next year.

Department inspectors made two visits in Hawke's Bay on Good Friday and found two shops open. On Easter Sunday, they made four visits and found four shops open.

Hastings Mitre 10 Mega was one of the stores visited on Easter Sunday.

Managing director Graeme Ricketts said the company knowingly broke the law "because our consumers indicate they want to shop".

"We weren't open on Friday - we realise it has special religious significance - but certainly Easter Sunday was a great day for us. The fact that people want stores like ours open means we should be open."

He said he expected to be prosecuted.

"This is not the first time we have been open on Easter Sunday."

The maximum penalty is $1000.

Mr McGowan said the department has not noticed a trend of more stores open on no-trade days.

"Nationally, the numbers of shops visited and found to be open over Easter 2012 is a similar number to 2011. There were 41 in 2012 and 39 in 2011.

Mr Dye said he was considering taking the risk and opening on public holidays, apart from Anzac Day.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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