Supermarkets close for two days

04:40, Apr 04 2012

Blenheim New World will not open on Easter Sunday but a warning from the Labour Department may not deter the supermarket from opening on the religious holiday in future.

Supermarkets are among stores not allowed to open on Good Friday and Easter Sunday in New Zealand, with a few exceptions.

Blenheim New World owner Mark Elkington said the supermarket will not open on either Good Friday or Easter Sunday.

"Last year we opened because of Anzac Day falling on the Monday, we would have been closed for a full day and a half and there were 30,000 visitors in town for the Classic Fighters Air Show," he said.

After opening on Easter Sunday last year, the Labour Department warned it could be prosecuted if it traded over Easter again.

"I think there is a demand for us to open on a Sunday, and I may consider it next year," Mr Elkington said.


Spokespeople from the Blenheim Countdown stores said they would not be opening on Easter Friday and Easter Sunday.

While most supermarkets can't open without breaking the law, Picton Fresh Choice Supermarket is exempt and will be opening on Good Friday.

Picton Fresh Choice office manager Lynda Forbes said they applied for an exemption in 1988, because of their location, in a tourist town.

"We applied and were approved for a regional dispensation many many years ago, as a tourist organisation," she said.

"I've checked it out with the Department of Labour and the Retailers Association, and we are all good."

The original Shop Trading Hours Bill in 1977 was repealed in 1990 and because she had applied for the dispensation before then, it remained, she said. However, they will not be selling wine and beer under the Sale of Liquor Act and would not be opening on Sunday, she said.

Picton and Havelock Four Squares will be opening all weekend.

Havelock Four Square owner Christine Fisk said even though a lot of people do all their shopping there, they are categorised as a convenience store.

Anthony Merrie, of the Labour Department, said specification of which supermarkets are allowed to open depends on the area they are in and how much food they have for sale.

"It depends on the area and the quantity of the food for sale not being excessive to the number of people who live there."

Farmers' Market New Zealand chairman Chris Fortune said it will be "business as normal", for the Marlborough Farmers' Market, which will open on Sunday morning.

"We believe we can legally operate under the current legislation, which allows for the sale of primary agriculture, which we mostly are," he said.

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean has been working on reforming the Easter trading law, which is still to have its first reading in Parliament.

The Shop Trading Hours Act Repeal (Waitaki Easter Trading) Amendment Bill 2010 would allow businesses in tourist towns to open during Easter. Ms Deans spoke with the Marlborough District Council and the Chamber of Commerce last year about adding Marlborough to the bill.



Places that can legitimately open at Easter include service stations, dairies, garden centres, takeaway food outlets, restaurants, cafes, duty-free stores, hair salons, video rental stores, pharmacies, real estate agencies and souvenir shops.

There are three and a half days when most shops are required to be closed under the Shop Trading Hours Repeal Act 1990: Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and until 1pm on Anzac Day.

The Marlborough Express