24 Apr 2024

Businesses bemoan Anzac Day trading restrictions

5:46 pm on 24 April 2024
AUCKLAND,NZ - OCT 13 2015:Traffic on Vulcan Lane in Auckland downtown, New Zealand .It's a popular cobblestone plaza off Queen St home to fashionable restaurants, cafes, pubs and stores.

Hospitality businesses in central Auckland say it is hard to cover costs with less trading on Anzac Day. File photo. Photo: 123rf.com

Some businesses will lose out on thousands of dollars due to Anzac Day trading restrictions, with others saying staff costs are too high to justify opening on the public holiday.

Nearly all shops will be closed until 1pm tomorrow, with the exception of essential services including pharmacies, small grocery shops, and takeaways.

The restrictions start as early as midnight tonight and any businesses found in breach of the rules could be fined up to $1000.

Patrick O'Leary, who manages the Occidental bar in central Auckland, said their business was expecting to lose out on thousands of dollars.

Restaurants and bars like his can not serve alcohol until after 1pm tomorrow unless it was with a meal, and they must also pay staff time and a half, plus a day off in lieu.

O'Leary said while Anzac Day was less restrictive than Easter, the losses were still significant, especially in the middle of a recession.

"At the moment, every dollar is essential, basically, so it's very very impactful, especially when it's a public holiday so we're paying extra wages, with less revenue than we would normally have," he said.

Bella Pati - who is one of the managers at the Vultures Lane bar - also said it would be hard to cover costs with less trading.

"It's quite difficult, like, when it comes to us having to be able to provide our wages and costs," she said.

Pati said they would miss out on the lunchtime rush on Thursday, and they would also miss out on visitors from cruise ships who would only be around for a brief window of time.

"We get a lot of tourism coming in and wanting to try New Zealand beers, we have to turn them away, because of these restrictions, most of them just wanna drink, they don't wanna eat," she said.

People walking in Auckland CBD.

Anzac Day trading laws are 'outdated', say some businesses. File photo. Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

'Totally not worth it'

Meanwhile, some business owners told RNZ they would not bother opening due to the additional costs.

A takeaway owner who did not want to be named said his business relied mostly on CBD workers who would not be there on Anzac Day.

"No point to open that day, plus if we open for public holiday there'll be 1.5 holiday pay, so totally not worth it," he said.

O'Leary said the rules were "outdated" and has called for them to be scrapped.

"Easter and Anzac should be completely changed, it should be up to the business whether they want to open... I don't think in this day and age we should have restrictions on specific days," he said.

But others like Sarah Williamson - who manages Real Groovy Records - believed that the pause in business was worthwhile for an important day.

"I feel like that's probably one of the few holidays we would want to stay shut for, just to show respect," she said.

Meanwhile, the Labour Inspectorate, which has oversight of shop trading, said it was unaware of feedback from the public about scrapping the rules for Anzac Day.

Northern regional manager David Milne said changes to the rules were not being considered.

"There are no planned reviews of Anzac Day shop trading settings from MBIE's perspective," he said.

"Any reviews would be at the direction of our minister for workplace relations and safety."

Workplace relations minister Brooke van Velden has been contacted for comment.

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