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Easter trading still a circus

Newmarket Business Association

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Easter trading still a circus despite Govt talkfest

Easter trading will again be a circus this year despite comprehensive public consultation last year by the Department of Labour, predicts Auckland's leading retail precinct.

"The Government formally heard everyone's views through a lengthy submission process and Parliament should have tidied up the issues around Easter trading by now. However it appears the Government hasn't wanted to take a position in election year," says Cameron Brewer, head of the Newmarket Business Association.

"Once again we're going to see Department of Labour inspectors out and about this Easter weekend issuing $1,000 fines to some retailers and not others."

"Only fresh legislation will sort out the annual Easter circus once and for all. Until then the same headaches will recur. It's crazy that visitor destinations like Queenstown and Taupo can trade, but Rotorua, Mt Maunganui and Wanaka can't and desperately want to. There also remain silly anomalies that see the likes of Parnell being allowed to trade on Easter Sunday because it has got an historic exemption.

"This is not about further liberalisation of shop trading hours as we have good reason to believe the majority of retailers don't actually want to open their doors on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. We also think the majority of the public don't support the opening up of Easter.

"However there does need to be a new and level playing field introduced which reassesses which visitor destinations are exempt and which shops providing "essential" supplies can open. Also those areas with historic exemptions need to be re-examined. The question of whether garden centres should be allowed to open on Good Friday needs to ruled on as well. Since 2001 they've been allowed to open on Easter Sunday only.

In December the Newmarket Business Association conducted a snap poll of its membership which revealed that about three-quarters of its retailers are against a potential law change to allow all New Zealand shops to open on Easter Sunday.

Over 400 Newmarket retailers were emailed the question "Should the Government change the law to allow all New Zealand shops to open on Easter Sunday?" Mr Brewer said that 73% of respondents were against shops opening on Easter Sunday and 27% for.

"It is very clear that retailers' value having Easter off - it's their sole surviving long weekend. Let's not forget that most of them are open 361.5 days of the year. Some retailers believe if Easter Sunday goes, then it will be Good Friday, Christmas Day, and Anzac Day morning.

"So lets preserve those 3.5 days but lets also see some urgency come out of Parliament as a result of the Department of Labour's consultation. We strongly believe much fairer Easter trading legislation could be drafted that irons out all the inconsistencies that cause so much angst every year. Unfortunately after nearly nine years the Government has so far only delivered a talkfest," said Mr Brewer.


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