Easter Trading Bill – MPs Urged to Vote

In a bid to open debate on the issue, both Hospitality NZ and Retail NZ are urging all members of Parliament to vote through the first reading of the Easter trading bill so hospitality and retail businesses can have their say on whether to stay open or not.

The Repeal of Good Friday and Easter Sunday as Restricted Trading Days (Shop Trading and Sale of Alcohol) Amendment Bill has been introduced by ACT MP Chris Bailie. If it becomes law, it will remove decision-making on local Easter trading hours from local bodies, leaving businesses to decide themselves.

Both associations want to debate the merits of the bill through the Select Committee process as current regulations of decision-making by local councils do not work.

“This is a very important issue for hospitality businesses across New Zealand and it’s important they get to debate the merits of the bill in select committee, alongside members of the public. Easter trading rules are currently delegated to local councils, but this leaves a patchwork of
different rules across the country, which creates a lot of confusion for operators and the public," noted Julie White, CEO of Hospitality NZ.

“Dealing with this issue at a national level would remove confusion and division as some areas get to trade while others don’t. Easter weekend presents one of the highest demand travel periods in the calendar, and removing this confusion for both domestic and international tourists also aids the recovery of tourism.

“In our view, the Easter trading debate is a simple one – it’s about enabling hospitality businesses to choose if they wish to open or not. After the past two years of economic devastation across our industry, it’s important business have the choice to open if they can and if they want to.”

Retail NZ CEO, Greg Harford agreed, saying that businesses should have the right to choose whether to stay open or closed over Easter while also protecting the rights of their workers.

“We still have the main economic centres not having made the move to enable this choice. Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and 21 other councils have not enabled what others have around the country.

“Easter trading is working well in provincial towns and cities, and it’s disappointing that our big city councils and economic powerhouses aren’t allowing businesses to make the choice, taking account of worker and customer demand.”