Pop-up fireworks sales proof regulations are working - Retail NZ

Retail NZ claims the proliferation of fireworks pop-up stores in the lead-up to Guy Fawkes is proof that regulation is working.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told The AM Show on Monday she had noticed an increase in pop-up sales around Auckland - "just people pulled up on the side of the road... selling stockpiles of fireworks out of the back of a truck".

But Retail NZ public affairs general manager Greg Harford says that's because fireworks are becoming less available in supermarkets.

"Although I don't have any statistics to support this, anecdotally, we think the number of outlets selling fireworks has reduced substantially over a number of years," he told Newshub.

Public opinion on Guy Fawkes, marking a failed attempt to blow up the English Parliament four centuries ago, is divided. While many still partake in the pyrotechnic commemoration, others resent the noise, the fire risk and the distress inflicted on pets.

Ms Ardern admits she has misgivings.

"As a kid, I loved it - as an adult, it's a pain in the butt," she said. 

"If I was a kid, looking at me now, I'd think 'what and old fuddy-duddy, you're ruining all the fun'. But as I lay in bed, listening to the 'pop pop pop' around me, thinking about all the animals, the fire service."

Under Auckland Council regulations, pop-up vendors only need resource consent if they are operating on public land or their site carries a residential zoning. If they are selling from land with business zoning - commercial or industrial - no consent is required.

Retail NZ insists the roadside stalls are not symptomatic sales are out of control. In fact, just the opposite is true, says Mr Horford.

"The current regulations are very prescriptive and very detailed," he says. "We think they work reasonably well.

"There are already really strict rules in place around the handling and sale of fireworks, and they have been tightened up substantially over recent years.

"We provide specific advice on these to our members each year and retailers are good at complying with the rules.

"Indeed, the rise of 'pop-up' fireworks stores over the years is likely the result of tightened regulations, which make it harder to sell fireworks from a general store."

Mr Horford says the strong demand is seasonal, with sales already limited to four days each year.

"There is also an increasing choice of 'lower noise' products available in the market, to give consumers more choice about the products they buy."


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