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Retail NZ calls for national rules around Easter trading

  • News
  • May 22, 2018
Retail NZ calls for national rules around Easter trading

A recent report carried out by Retail NZ has shown that council changes surrounding Easter trading was well received by both shoppers and workers. The report shows a strong lean towards councils opting to allow retailers to open or not during the holiday.

60 percent of councils had voted to allow retail businesses to make their own decisions about opening on Easter Sunday, according to Greg Harford, Retail NZ’s general manager of public affairs.

"Districts where trading was permitted saw the economic benefits of choice, with Marketview reporting a 23 percent increase in spending compared to Easter Sunday last year. This has been beneficial for retail businesses in places from the Far North District down to Southland.”

According to the report, there was strong demand for shopping, either online or in stores that were open.

Retail NZ has reported that just 9,771 of the 35,358 shops in New Zealand had the choice to open.

“There is strong customer demand for shopping on Easter Sunday. Despite the ban on most shops opening in most main cities, research by Nielsen shows 50 percent of New Zealanders undertook some form of commercial activity on Easter Sunday, including 62 percent of people aged 25-39,” says Harford.

“Shopping is increasingly a social and family pastime, and one that customers increasingly want to be able to do on Easter Sunday, either online or in-store. Research also shows that public opinion is moving against nanny state-style regulation of shopping hours, with 69 percent of Kiwis saying that they don't think the government should make shops close on religious holidays, or don't care either way.”

Retail NZ has stressed its stance on protecting the rights of businesses and employees who don’t want to work during the holiday.

“Shop workers are the only employees who have the right to say no to work, and it's interesting to see that, while big city councils like Auckland have refused to allow shops the choice to open on Easter Sunday, Auckland Council facilities like swimming pools, zoos and museums were nonetheless open. Unlike shop workers, council employees have no legal right to turn down work on Easter Sunday.”

Harford says although this year has seen partial success, laws and regulations still need to be made clear for both retailers and shoppers.

“It is time for the new Labour-led Government to end the nonsense around Easter Sunday shopping. In the 21st century, Kiwis don't need government or councils to tell them when they can shop. We are asking the government to repeal the restrictions on opening shops, while noting the rights of shop workers to say no to work are specially protected under the law".

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