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Shop trading hours

Rubbish would be collected as normal on Anzac Day, fearful Tauranga residents were assured. And those anxious about whether they could make a trip to the dump were told transfer stations would be open all day! So what’s with the piety about shops having to shut on Good Friday and Easter Sunday?

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The perfectly good argument about allowing families to spend time together has long been swamped by abuse and silly exceptions. In Queenstown (a tourist-town exception) shops can open with impunity; in Wanaka (a tourist town) they cannot. But they open anyway. And nothing happens.

The Ministry of Everything (MBIE) puffs about the legislation publicly but its enforcement approach this year was the same as last when inspectors tore themselves away from their families to visit two businesses. Fines totalled $1500. To be fair the ministry is in a difficult spot. It’s administering a law - the Shop Trading Hours Repeal Act – in which it has no faith. According to a newspaper report, it told Wanaka retailers there would be no inspections this year. Hence the 100,000 visitors to the town for the Warbirds over Wanaka airshow could happily part with their money.

Repeat offender, Oderings garden centre chain did get a telling-off the week before Easter, but ignored it. No one went without their compost. No inspectors visited.

It all harks back to the decade of silliness – the 1970s – when shop trading legislation was so convoluted it was hard to work out what you could and couldn’t buy/sell in the weekends or other holidays. Remember the covered fresh meat shelves in dairies in the weekends, the restrictions on who could sell what?

Perhaps the answer lies there. This perversity is part of the country’s character. On the one hand we have some of the most liberal shop trading hours anywhere in the world, on the other we stick to odd doffs to tradition. It’s a muddle and we like it.

About the author

Sue Chetwin has been our Chief Executive since April 2007 after more than 25 years in print journalism. She was formerly the Editor of Sunday News, Sunday Star Times and the Herald on Sunday. She says there are strong parallels between consumer advocacy and journalism.

Sue oversees all of Consumer’s operations and is also the public face of the organisation. Sue is a director of the Banking Ombudsman Scheme, an alternate on the Electricity and Gas Complaints Commission and a member of the Electricity Authority Retail Advisory group.