Perfect holiday storm ahead for families

DAVE BURGESS
Last updated 05:00 15/04/2014

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A perfect storm has families eyeing up a 10-day holiday as retailers and hospitality businesses are left wondering what it will mean for their bottom line.

For the first time since 2003, Easter Monday occurs in the same week as Anzac Day, which falls on a Friday.

Workers can get a 10-day break by taking leave to cover the three days between Easter Monday and Anzac Day, and the Wellington hospitality trade fears it will be a tough patch.

The 10-day stretch coincides with the school holidays which start on Thursday, and the university mid-semester break which began yesterday and runs until after Anzac Day.

Shops are required by law to close on Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Anzac Day until 1pm, although there are a variety of exemptions including those for dairies, service stations and food outlets.

Restaurants with on-licenses, and pubs, can open but customers cannot buy a drink without a meal.

Hospitality NZ's Wellington branch president Jeremy Smith said the "archaic Easter trading regulations", the potential of people taking a 10-day break, and the time of year present big challenges.

"The bottom line for the industry is that it's going to be a very tough 10 days."

He said the industry had just come off a busy March, but traditionally April was "a bit of a cusp month

"Daylight saving kicks in and people take a bit of time to settle into the fact that the weather's changed, it's getting colder, it's dark."

Cafe Mamba co-owner Madeleine Baxter said she initially planned to shut on only the statutory holidays of Good Friday, Easter Monday and Anzac Day.

"The idea now is to come in on the Tuesday after Easter and see how it goes," she said. "I know we don't make any money if we aren't open, but if we have to throw away food that nobody's bought then we are losing money."

Telecom spokesman Andrew Pirie said the company's overall approach was to encourage staff to take leave in a timely manner, while balancing the needs of the business.

"For people who have leave owing and who don't have priority work commitments over those three days, it makes sense for them to take that leave and therefore get an extended break."

Kirkcaldie & Stains managing director John Milford said some of his staff would take three days leave to have a 10-day holiday.

"On balance, while it is a bit of a perfect storm . . . it's also an opportunity for employers to say [to employees] ‘why don't you take those three days'." It was a good way to proactively manage annual leave levels.

"Equally it means . . . there is a customer opportunity for people who aren't at work who can visit retail."

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New Zealand Retailers Association spokeswoman Louise Evans McDonald said the Easter/Anzac period would mean travel for some and "staycations" for others.

"Either way, shopping is likely to be a part of the recreational activities for many."

It was also a time for sorting out the garden, and completing DIY tasks around the house.

- BusinessDay

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