Just one complaint was laid in Northland about shops flouting Easter trading laws - and a local business leader says the lack of concern shows a law change is due.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment was notified of one Northland business breaking trading laws over Easter weekend. Trading restrictions on Good Friday and Easter Sunday prohibit many shops from opening. Flouting the law can lead to a $1000 fine.

Northland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Tony Collins said he expected some businesses to have opened but the lack of complaints reflected a changed public attitude toward shopping at Easter.

"The majority of people are probably in a position where they're a lot more comfortable buying things on Easter Sunday than they would have been in the past," he said.


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 Collins said a law change would be good for the local economy, as many Northland businesses relied on income generated in the summer to cover the quieter winter months.

"If there's an opportunity to capture that tourism market, it's probably quite important that [trading] takes place. It's important that businesses are in a position to be sustainable, which often means taking advantage of those times when tourists are around."

Mr Collins said he expected Northland councils would allow Easter Sunday trading, should the bill pass.

There were 15 Easter trading complaints nationwide - well down on the 42 lodged last year, and the lowest in at least four years. Retail New Zealand spokesman Greg Harford said the current 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.

He 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," he said.

Mr Harford said people who travelled on Easter weekend might unwittingly get caught in a non-trading area. However, he said it's a step in the right direction and there is widespread support for a change in the law.

"People still need to shop when they're away, and the whole of New Zealand is a destination. People want to get out and about and shopping is part of that."

The bill - expected to be in place by Easter 2017 - would allow any employee to refuse to work on Easter Sunday "without giving a reason".