Easter hours: 'Let stores decide'

By Jordan Bond

Shoppers walk into the Mitre 10 Mega Hastings store on Easter Sunday. Photo / Warren Buckland
Shoppers walk into the Mitre 10 Mega Hastings store on Easter Sunday. Photo / Warren Buckland

A Hawke's Bay business leader says it's time to let shop owners decide whether to open on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, after not a single complaint was laid about Bay shops flouting the holiday trading laws.

Trading restrictions prohibit many shops from opening on those days. Flouting the law can lead to a $1000 fine.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment was not notified of any Bay businesses breaking the trading laws.

Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce chief executive Wayne Walford said the decision over whether shops opened should not be a government one. "We should let the market dictate that and let businesses make the call on whether it's viable or not."

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 Walford said locking doors over Easter frustrated many Kiwis who hoped to use the long weekend productively.

"We have a culture in New Zealand of DIY, and for a lot of people the only chance you get to do those bigger projects is on long weekends."

Mitre 10 Mega Napier and Hastings have broken trading laws and opened for business on Easter Sunday for the past 10 years. Managing director Graeme Ricketts said he had been fined in the past but that had never been a problem.

"I would say the public expect stores to be open on Easter Sunday in this day and age," he said. "The trading we're doing on Easter Sunday indicates there's certainly a demand there."

Mr Ricketts said allowing stores to open "needs to be a central government decision". He said he had no problem closing his doors on Good Friday.

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

Retail New Zealand spokesman Greg Harford said the 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 the Government should have taken the opportunity to present a bill changing the law nationwide. "It doesn't make sense. It's going to be confusing and it's really expensive to administer bylaws."

However, it was a step in the right direction and there was widespread support for a change in the law.

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

- Hawkes Bay Today

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