Ever felt the urge to pop out an Easter Sunday to buy a new toaster or a pair of shoes?

You could be in luck.

Whanganui District Council is considering whether to allow shops to open on Easter Sunday from next year and has asked the public for feedback before it makes its call.

Since 2016 local councils have been able to decide whether shops can open on Easter Sunday, a baffling transfer of responsibility by central government which is leading to inconsistent trading rules across the country.


But it's what we have got and now the Whanganui community has to decide what it wants.

Shopping hours have always changed with the times.

In the 19th century shops could basically open all hours except for Sundays.

That started changing in 1892 when the Shops and Shop Assistants Act required shops to close a further half day.

In 1904 The Shops and Offices Act brought in 6pm closing for all but one night a week and when the 40-hour working week was introduced Saturday shopping was also banned, leading to the most restrictive time for retailers.

Since then the tight regulation has slowly been chipped away at.

Saturday shopping came back in 1970, Sunday shopping came in a decade later and since 1990 shops have been able to open 24/7 except on Easter Friday and Sunday, Christmas Day and Anzac Day morning.

A precious three and a half days where the majority of people can be assured a day off remains.


Having said that the world has changed. People can shop online 24/7, retailers battling for survival may feel they could use the extra day.

Any change would go largely unnoticed.

But we would lose something.

Days where the focus of life shifts and people are drawn back to their homes, friends and families and not buying or selling things are rare.

For whatever we might gain, is it worth giving up another one?