29 Mar 2013

Retailers flout trading law

10:17 pm on 29 March 2013

Some retail businesses throughout New Zealand opened on Friday in defiance of the Easter trading law.

It is illegal for shops to open on Good Friday and Easter Sunday unless they have an exemption under the Shop Trading Hours Act.

Businesses found flouting the law can be fined up to $1000.

Oderings has 10 garden centres nationwide and plans to stay open throughout the weekend.

Garden centres have an exemption for Easter Sunday but should be closed on Good Friday.

Retailers Association spokesperson Louise Evans McDonald says the law is confusing and needs a complete overhaul.

"There's a lot of confusion amongst customers as well, particularly tourists.

"You've got basically a regime of expemptions that, at the moment, there's no ability for those to be reviewed - and some of them are pretty outdated. You've got examples where someone in a particular town is able to open and in another town isn't."

Ms McDonald believes shops should be allowed to decide for themselves if they want to close or not.

Surcharge warning

The Commerce Commission is warning businesses not to fall foul of the law on imposing a surcharge for customers over Easter.

It says cafes, restaurants and bars could breach the Fair Trading Act by suggesting the Holidays Act is the reason for charging customers more.

The commission says firms should also be aware that casual staff employed on Good Friday and Easter Monday do not get paid more under the legislation.

Companies must also not cite the Holidays Act if they charge more on Saturday and Sundays, which are not public holidays.

It warns businesses should display a prominent sign advising customers of any surcharge before they order.