I hope you’ve all enjoyed your compulsory holiday over Easter. As is traditional, mine was spent in the garden – I ripped out the last of the summer’s scraggly old cherry tomatoes and butternut pumpkins, then spent a happy half-hour at my local garden centre shopping for winter vegetable seedlings. We came home with rainbow silverbeet, kale, beetroot, radishes and more.
Garden centres benefit from an exemption in Easter trading law allowing them to open on Easter Sunday. This extra day of trade is very handy for me as a consumer because, like many Kiwis, I’m largely unable to shop between 9am and 5pm during the working week. The office hours I share with the majority of New Zealand’s salaried workers mean retail outlets with regular hours and no Sunday trading are effectively off-limits six days of the week.
These unofficial limitations seriously erode my ability to support New Zealand retailers by shopping with them. It’s possible to dash out for quick errands between interviews, but I doubt my team would be impressed if I went down to Ponsonby for a fashion fix on company time. Likewise, even if the shopping trip itself is swift and convenient, some purchases aren’t suitable for the office – Tangible Media is a tolerant place, but five wet punnets of baby spring onions and a 20kg bag of sheep pellet fertiliser probably wouldn’t go down well.
Thanks to the Easter trading exemption for garden centres, my coworkers are spared this situation (and worse).
Those seeking to defend the current restrictions on Easter trading often wheel out the argument that New Zealand consumers have 361.5 days besides Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Anzac Day and Christmas Day to do their shopping. That might be true for those who work part-time or not at all, but for the rest of us, four clear days to get to the shops is a luxury worth pursuing.
I’m in support of relaxing the restrictions on retail trade during Easter, and look forward to seeing New Zealand’s retailers benefit from those additional trading days.
This story originally appeared in NZRetail magazine issue 743 April / May 2016