Easter Sunday trading a victory in part

Changes made to the laws surrounding trading on Easter Sunday have made the situation more...
Changes made to the laws surrounding trading on Easter Sunday have made the situation more confusing, Wanaka's Yes Photo and Digital's store owner Steve Worley says. Mr Worley was one of many shop owners in Wanaka who opened their retail stores on both Easter Sunday and Good Friday. PHOTO: TIM MILLER
One day you are breaking the law, the next you are not.

That was the situation many Wanaka shop owners found themselves in during the Easter weekend as new trading laws came into effect for the first time.

Retailers in Wanaka were given the green light to open legally on Easter Sunday for the first time after the Queenstown Lakes District Council voted earlier this year to relax the rules which had prohibited most retailers from opening.

Last year, the Government changed the law, giving local councils the power to legalise trading on Easter Sunday.

So far, 25 councils have passed bylaws to allow shops to open on the day.

Although trading was still not allowed on Good Friday, many shops in Wanaka defied the law, as usual, and opened for business.

Restrictions on the sale of alcohol were still in place on both days.

In Wanaka, Yes Photo and Digital owner Steve Worley opened the doors to his camera store in Ardmore St both days, just as he had done for the past 16 years.

``We opened as we normally do, though it seemed the weather put a few people off, but we're happy with how we did on both Friday and Sunday.''

Mr Worley said being able to legally open on the Sunday for the first time meant he was able to relax a bit more than previous years.

``I've got a conscience - I don't want to break the law.

``But at least I could legitimately open on the Sunday without having to worry, and employ people which is the main thing.''

It was still a ridiculous situation he could be prosecuted for doing the same thing on Good Friday, he said.

``It seems the law is more confusing to people than it was before, but luckily for us, it doesn't seem be enforced.''

Mr Worley has been prosecuted twice. On the first occasion he was fined $130 and the second time he was convicted but not fined.

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment labour inspectorate regional manager David Milne said last week if businesses traded on Good Friday, they could be fined up to $1000, especially if they had been previously warned and prosecuted.

Information about Easter trading hours and enforcement by inspectors would be collated in the next two to four weeks.

Since 1986, shop owners in Queenstown have been exempt from the Easter trading laws, irking shop owners and confusing tourists over the hill in Wanaka.

Queenstown Lakes deputy mayor Calum MacLeod said the council had done what it could to rectify the anomaly and thought Good Friday would eventually follow.

``I think as more of your holiday places come on board, the likes of your Tauranga or Coromandel, there will be increasing pressure to take a look at the Easter Friday situation.''

Retailers in the Clutha and Central Otago districts were legally allowed to open on Sunday. But it was illegal for those in Dunedin and the Waitaki district to do the same.

tim.miller@odt.co.nz

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