Easter policy a step closer
The Timaru District Council is preparing to ask people whether shops in South Canterbury should be allowed to open on Easter Sunday, but with business owners deeply ambivalent about the idea, it is uncertain how many retailers would take advantage.
The council will discuss its Easter trading proposal document on Tuesday. If approved, it will be circulated to the public. Its preferred option is that all shops in the district would be able to trade on Easter Sunday if they chose to do so, with employees able to refuse to work without any repercussions for their employment relationship.
Mitre 10 Mega Timaru owner Simon Lye - who also owns the Ashburton and Oamaru stores - said the proposal was not something he would support.
He knew people would come in if they opened, but at the moment there was not the customer demand to warrant opening and have staff feel the pressure to spend the day away from their families.
‘‘I’m more than happy with the status quo.’’
He realised the day was popular for DIY projects but most people knew to plan in advance, he said.
Two other options were also on the table, however, with it being possible Easter trading would only be allowed in certain parts of the Timaru District.
The other option - favoured by the South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce - was not to have a bylaw at all.
Chamber chief executive Wendy Smith said the chamber believed the Government needed to set the policy, rather than the council. Regional bylaws created confusion among the general public about who was open and who was not, she said.
Timaru councillor Peter Burt was comfortable with the bylaw as it was, and thought it was important people were allowed to refuse to work on that day if they did not want to, while mayor Damon Odey declined to comment before the council discussion.
Reverend Brent Richardson, of the Timaru Presbyterian Church, was opposed to a bylaw.
‘‘If your God and religion is money and shopping, it makes perfect sense to maximise your opportunities on that. The question I would ask is as a society, is it our main value to shop?’’
Discussions around Easter trading in South Canterbury have been going on since the beginning of the year, with councillors unanimous in deciding to form a policy in February.
A policy was favoured in the popular tourist spot of Geraldine, with many business owners and groups in support.
Geraldine LOUK NZ Clothing owner Suzanne Churchward was ambivalent, saying she was happy with the law as it was, but would feel obligated to open if everyone else was. ’’It’s a destination town. We need to all be together on it,’’ she said. ‘‘I believe in unity for the good of the town.’’
It was good to have some days when trading was not permitted, she said.
Geraldine Garden Centre owner Max Burrows did not have firm views, but doubted the garden centre would open on Easter Sunday, as it was a family day.
In Timaru, Miss Timaru owner Sophie Preen said she would not take advantage of the bylaw if it went ahead, because she did not open on Sundays anyway.
Speight’s Ale House co-owner Nigel Bowen also said he could already open for customers if they wanted a meal but he did not, as it was a family day for his staff.