Retail NZ Position Statement

Shop Trading Hours

In 2024 consumers are unrestricted in purchasing online, yet the Shop Trading Hours Act restricts some retailers, in some locations from doing business on three and half days each year. The Act is no longer fit for purpose in 2024.


The Shop Trading Hours Act bans many shops from opening on Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and until 1pm on ANZAC Day.

In 2016 some local Councils were given the power to allow shops in their districts to choose whether to open on Easter Sunday. This created further complexity and commercial inequity.

An employee’s right to refuse to work on Easter Sunday was explicitly protected in this legislation. We support continuation of this right. 

What’s the problem?  

Restrictions on shop trading hours are commercially inequitable, inconsistent, outdated and not justified.

Restrictions on shop trading hours are commercially unfair.

  • Restrictions apply only to some bricks-and-mortar retailers.
  • Restrictions do not apply to e-commerce retailers.
  • Restrictions do not apply to any other type of business.

Restrictions and exemptions are not consistent across the country. 

  • Some retailers can do business on one more day each year. 
  • The restrictions and exemptions are confusing. 
  • Multiple complex exemptions depend on the type of store and its location, with no mechanism to grant further exemptions.

The arguments against shopping at Easter don’t stack up.

Workers need a day offShop workers (but only shop workers) have special rights under the law and are guaranteed Easter Sunday off if they want it.

However, most workers in the economy aren’t affected by the requirement for shops to close because shop workers account for just 9% of New Zealand’s workforce. The ban on shops opening doesn’t affect workers from other sectors. 

Service stations, some small grocery stores, pharmacies, swimming pools, cinemas, theatres, hairdressers, beauticians, communications companies, broadcasters, and local Councils are just some of the businesses that are allowed to be open on Easter Sunday – and workers in these industries do not have a legal right to a day off on Easter Sunday. 
Easter Sunday has religious significanceWhile Easter Sunday is an important religious day for the Christian community, just 27% of New Zealanders think that Government should require shops to close on religious holidays.*

New Zealand is a diverse and multicultural society, and individuals choose to celebrate religious and cultural events that have significance to them. Events such as Hanukkah, Diwali, Ramadan and Chinese New Year are celebrated without the Government banning physical shops from opening. People choose whether or not to open their shop, or to shop themselves, on those days.
Too much consumerismShopping is an essential activity for those needing to purchase food or other essential items and, for many, it is an important social activity, providing an opportunity to engage with friends and family. On Easter Sunday 2018, 50% of New Zealanders chose to undertake commercial activity.*

Allowing shops to open on a nationwide basis simply provides choice, and does not require anyone to go shopping, to open their shop, or to work in a shop.
Some business owners will be forced to openUnder the law, the owners of businesses can’t be forced to open their doors on Easter Sunday. 
Businesses are free to remain closed if they wish to do so.

*Source: Nielsen Online Omnibus survey conducted in April 2018, n=700 representative nationwide sample aged 15 years and over.

What’s the answer?  

Retail NZGovernment and Local Government Retailers
  • Advocating to central government for liberalisation and consistency of rules restricting shop trading hours, with an initial focus on Easter trading.
  • Providing advice to retailers about changes in legislation and how this affects their business.
  • Remove restrictions on shop trading hours, particularly for Easter.
  • Providing flexible and dynamic career pathways.
  • Complying with legislation.

If you have any questions about the Retail NZ Shop Trading Hours Position Statement, please email [email protected].

Updated by Retail NZ in February 2024.


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