Supermarkets join fight over alcohol sales

TRACEY CHATTERTON
Last updated 05:00 25/02/2014

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Holidaymakers and shift workers will be inconvenienced by cutting the hours that alcohol can be bought, supermarket representatives say.

Supermarkets, bottle stores, wineries and publicans oppose the tighter restrictions mooted by Napier and Hastings councils.

A joint committee is hearing almost 40 of the 320 submissions made on the draft Local Alcohol Policy.

The policy proposes closing licensed premises at 2am rather than 3am, or allowing bars to remain open until 3am with a one-way door policy after 2am.

Supermarket and bottle stores would be restricted to selling alcohol from 9am to 9pm, instead of the current 7am to 11pm hours.

Wineries could also be banned from serving wine in glasses at special events.

Hastings Pak'n Save director Brendon Smith told the committee yesterday that supermarkets must cater to all sectors of the community.

Reducing sale hours would inconvenience a high number of shift and seasonal workers in the region.

He urged the councils to maintain the 7am-11pm hours brought in by Parliament last December.

Early bird shoppers trying to avoid the Christmas Eve rush became irate when told they had to wait until 7am to buy alcohol.

The store would not have coped if staff had to wait until 9am to sell beer, wine and cider, Mr Smith said.

Tourists who shopped before or after a day of activities would also suffer, Foodstuffs North Island spokeswoman Emma Harris said.

There was no evidence that cutting selling hours would reduce alcohol-related harm, she said. Just 4.3 per cent of Foodstuffs sales before 9am included alcohol, with that dropping to 3.2 per cent after 9pm.

Ms Harris asked the committee to differentiate between bottle stores and supermarkets because alcohol sales were not supermarkets' core business.

However, Independent Liquor submitted that bottle stores and supermarkets should be treated the same because "alcohol is alcohol".

The committee must make a recommendation to Napier and Hastings councils by March 13 and 14.

The hearing continues today.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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