Retail round-up: Should shops open over Easter or not?

  • News
  • March 24, 2016
  • Elly Strang
Retail round-up: Should shops open over Easter or not?

Unless a store has a legal exemption, this weekend most stores will be required to close on Good Friday and East Sunday.

However, this could be soon due to change, as the Government has a Bill before the house that will allow local councils to make the call on whether shops can open or not.

Retail NZ is strongly opposed to this proposal.

General manager of public affairs Greg Harford says this will make a complicated set of rules even worse, and they’d rather see a consistent national approach.

Retail NZ’s recommendation is that shops should be allowed to open over Easter if they choose to.

The same applies to employees, as Harford says staff should have the option to choose whether they want to work over Easter or not.

“Our view is that no shop should be forced to open over Easter, no employee should be forced to work, and no customer should be forced to shop; but those decisions are best made by the people concerned – [the retailers] not by the Government,” Harford says.

 The Bill is currently being considered by select committee and will take into account 107 submissions. The report is due in mid-May.

With this being said, here’s a selection of views from the web for and against stores opening for trade over Easter:

In Mike Yardley’s column, ‘Easting Trading laws a dog’s breakfast,’ he says he makes a point of attending mass each Easter and that he’d never dream of spending Good Friday or Easter Sunday in a supermarket or a hardware store. But he acknowledges that this isn’t the case for all of New Zealand, as 51 percent of New Zealanders no longer identify as Christian.

“Beyond an obligatory bag of buns and chocolate eggs, Easter exudes no religious resonance for most Kiwis. That's why I believe our Easter Trading Hours must be rehashed in deference to the new reality.

“Have you ever perused the legislation that governs our trading hours over Easter? They're a tangled web of tourist town exemptions, anomalies, oddities and absurdities. For example, a hair salon can open to provide a haircut, but they cannot sell hair product.”

He is also critical of the new Bill in Parliament.

“Designed to take effect from next Easter, this underwhelming legislative response is a bare-faced cop-out, duck-shoving the "too hard" issue into the disparate hands of 67 local body authorities. You can envisage the inane scenarios that could play out, whereby neighbouring retail centres like Kaiapoi and Northwood could be governed by polar opposite regulations.”

Papamoa’s Plaza centre manager David Hill also criticised the proposed bill, saying to the Bay of Plenty times there should be no restrictions.

“For shops to be shut is disrespectful to tourists and holidaymakers, and locals as well. Putting it into the hands of council is half a solution as it is decided by whoever happens to be on council at the time. It is essential the consumer decides; if they want to shop they will, if they don't they won't.”

On the other side, many opposed the proposed Easter trading law, but for different reasons.

In the Malborough Express, an unnamed columnist said the Government is more likely to listen to the “heavyweight juggernauts of well-organised business associations” than “A handful of gentle, meek Christians with a few mild-mannered submissions”.

“Businesses claim their livelihoods are being threatened by not opening right through Easter, one of the busiest weekends of the year. Pretty emotive stuff, albeit nonsense as they have survived this long.”

In First Union retail and finance secretary Maxine Gay’s column, ‘Easter trading: You have 362 days to shop and only three for family,’ she slams the solution before the Government as a “cop out”.

“Rather than engaging in one national debate about the merits or otherwise of keeping Easter Sunday a day for all families to enjoy, the Government is proposing a bill that will mean hundreds of Easter trading debates are replicated across the country.

“There's no certainty in that, neither for working people nor large employers that trade across the country (think of stores like Farmers or The Warehouse).”

She says Easter is one of the few guaranteed days off each year for retail and hospitality workers.

“The Government should feel embarrassed about placing the urge to shop ahead of the right to a day off with family.”

What are your views on the Shop Trading Hours Amendment Bill? Share them below.

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