The man who sparked successful court action against Napier City Council over Easter trading says he's disappointed shops in his city can continue to trade on Easter Sunday.

However, he said this time he's glad councillors listened to the community.

Robin Gwynn, who launched legal action against council and won the right to have the decision revisited, said there had been "a much higher level of debate than there was last time round. I think the issues have been heard."

But the former councillor said he was personally disappointed by the outcome, believing the council should have put family rights first.

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"I'm sorry the council at the end of the day should think that freedom of choice for the wealthy, because that's what it comes down to, should override the needs of families who may not have a voice."

The council yesterday voted eight to three in favour of letting retail shops choose whether or not to open on Easter Sunday.

Napier City Business Inc acting manager Steph Kennard said they were happy businesses would continue to have choice in the matter.

"We completed an independent survey that found that 72% of our members were in favour of being given the option to open. "

"Having the ability to choose does not mean they have to open, this decision will be made by each of the retailers come April next year."

"We just voted on the basis that the retailers should have that freedom."

First Union representative Mike McNabb said, while they were disappointed with the decision, he felt the council had heard them this time.

"We are of course disappointed, but that's just the way these things happen sometimes."

"I do believe we had a fair consultation process this time, so there are some pluses and positives around that, and I believe that the councillors did listen to us."

He would continue to make sure workers knew they had the right to say they didn't want to work on Easter Sunday, and maintain a constructive relationship with businesses in Napier.

He also wanted to thank Gwynn for standing up in what he believed in.

"Many union workers have praised him for standing up for them."

The new bylaw will allow retail shops and supermarkets to open on Easter Sunday. Other businesses, including cafes, pharmacies and service stations, are already allowed to open at Easter.

The council received 177 written submissions on the policy, and heard 13 oral submissions.

Of the written submissions, 58% were opposed to shops being allowed to open, and 42% thought they should.