Stuff.co.nz reports that when Prime Minister John Key visited Blenheim on Friday, he criticised the current laws as not working well and resulting in “tremendous inconcistency.”
He told Stuff that he wanted to change the laws to ensure a fair and consistent approach to Easter trading, admitting that this was not what was currently happening.
“I think there’s enough people around the country saying that they think the law doesn’t work that we at least have to go away and have a look at it.”
After Easter this year, Retail NZ chief executive Mark Johnston wrote in an opinion column for The Register that the many local exemptions made the trading restrictions nearly meaningless.
He felt this was particularly unfair as the outdated legislation makes no reference to online shopping, allowing e-commerce to continue unhindered.
“There should be no compulsion to open a shop – and employees shouldn’t be obliged to work if they don’t want to,” Johnston says. “But in the 21st century, if customers want to shop and employees want to work, why does the government still ban most shops from opening?”
Fashion retailer Annah Stretton also spoke out against Easter trading laws, calling them “farcical” and “a travesty of government regulation” in a strongly-worded release.
Retail NZ general manager of public affairs Greg Harford says the organisation is pleased that the PM is looking at reviewing Easter trading hours.
“This is a complex area and, while not all retailers want to open over Easter, there are others who do want to open in order to meet customer demand. The current rules are outdated and inconsistent, and in the 21st century when there are no restrictions on Internet trading, we think that decisions on opening hours should rest with retailers, not the government or anyone else.”
He says there would be a significant benefit to retailers and the economy from freeing up the restrictions.