Easter trading: Councils push to let shops open

Prostitutes across New Zealand can do business Easter Sunday, so why can't shops?

That's the question Retail NZ is asking after yet another council moved to let stores open on Easter Sunday.

Waikato District Council voted 7-4 in favour, raising the possibility small towns like Pokeno and Tuakau will be open for business while shops in Hamilton, the country's fourth-biggest city, will stay shut.

"Waikato's joining quite a long list of districts around the country where councils are making the call that their districts can be open for shopping business if it suits the needs of businesses, consumers and indeed the staff," Retail NZ's Greg Harford told The AM Show on Thursday.

Last year the Government amended the law restricting Easter Sunday trading, giving councils the power to make their own rules. Mr Harford says that's a copout.

"We're a small country of 4.5 million people - it does seem sensible to us you would have one set of rules."

So far, the regions have led the way.

"The big cities have yet to move - Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin - haven't considered the issue.

"We're hoping they'll be able to do that ahead of next Easter so customers can have the choice."

Hamilton, which sits at the centre of the Waikato District but has its own council, is currently taking submissions on what it should do. Hamilton City Council has proposed allowing shops to open on Easter Sunday.

Lower Hutt and Porirua are also looking to liberalise, but some regions are digging their heels in.

"Nelson, Palmerston North and Tasman have made the call they're not even going go out and consult their public on this," says Mr Harford.

"You can even work as a prostitute on Easter Sunday without any restrictions. It seems a little silly to me to be singling out shops as something that should be closed."