8 Apr 2012

Push for change to 'irrational' Easter trading rules

1:59 pm on 8 April 2012

Both supporters and critics of the Easter trading laws say confusion over which shops can trade during the weekend needs to be sorted out.

Twenty-two shops were found to have broken trading laws by opening on Good Friday, and Department of Labour inspectors were out in force again on Sunday to check whether retailers are complying with the legislation.

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National MP Jacqui Dean, who is pushing for trading law changes, says the patchwork of exemptions relating to Easter Sunday is irrational and confusing.

In Dunedin, arts, crafts and children's toys and books can be sold in the Carnegie Centre, but only if performances are taking place on the mezzanine floor.

Shops in Picton's Mariners Mall are allowed to open on Easter Sunday, but only if a cruise ship is in port. In Thames, shops at Richmond Court are permitted to open if Easter falls in March.

Ms Dean says these exemptions are ridiculous and the trading legislation is not good law.

"The problem we have is that this issue is always a conscience vote, and so we now have a patchwork of unrelated exemptions."

The MP has put forward the Shop Trading Hours Act Repeal (Waitaki Easter Trading) Amendment Bill which would allow all shops in her electorate to open throughout the Easter weekend.

Council of Trade Unions secretary Peter Conway says it is important that anomalies are not addressed in such a way that gets rid of the three-and-a half remaining days a year shops are generally closed.

Mr Conway says he can understand why tourists would be confused over the different rules governing which retailers can open when.

Under the Shop Trading Hours Repeal Act 1990, most shops must remain closed on Good Friday and Easter Sunday and until 1pm on Anzac Day. Retailers can be fined up to $1000 if they open illegally.

Exemptions apply for restaurants and cafes, convenience, souvenir and duty free stores, pharmacies and shops in premises where there are bona fide shows or exhibitions.