Easter trading up for debate
Central Otago retail businesses could open on Easter Sunday this year, if the council accepts a recommendation to allow it.
A report by council environmental team leader Ray Applegarth recommending ‘‘all shops’’ in the district have the opportunity to open will be considered at a Central Otago District Council meeting today.
Easter Sunday trading has long been a thorn in the side of businesses that - with the exception of some service sector businesses - have to close on a day when the majority of New Zealanders have a day off work.
However, the Shop Trading Hours Amendment Act 2016 gives local authorities the power to create a policy that allows Easter Sunday trading.
Cromwell Business Network spokesman Glen Christiansen said it would be ‘‘a step in the right direction’’.
It would be ‘‘fantastic’’ if businesses could open on one of the busiest visitor days of the year, he said.
‘‘You now don’t penalise the businesses that want to be open.’’
Alexandra Clyde Business Group Committee chairman Barry Hambleton said most members supported businesses opening.
‘‘The most important thing is, we’re a tourist town.
‘‘If you’re closed, you can’t sell anything.’’
The council report says accepting the recommendation would allow ‘‘tourists and locals to access shops which would ordinarily be closed’’.
Disadvantages of Easter Sunday trading noted were that it would go against some religious beliefs and those who felt it was a ‘‘good opportunity for family time’’.
A draft policy was put out for public consultation on November 19 and seven submissions were received, five of those in favour of Easter Sunday trading.
In a submission, Daniel and Shona Rae said the town was ‘‘bursting at the seams’’ over Easter and people needed to have access to shops and activities.
Gaye Gardner submitted against the policy, saying Easter Sunday was a holy day for Christians.
‘‘Everyone should have the opportunity to attend a church service, but also there are so few days when the family can enjoy a day together.’’