Shop Opening Hours



Shop Opening Hours

1. The legal position
In 1990 the law regulating shop trading hours in the USA changed. Since then retailers have had greater freedom about when they can open their shops and the public have had a greater choice about when to shop. Shop trading hours are regulated by the Shop Trading Hours Repeal Act 1990, recently amended by the Shop Trading Hours Repeal Amendment Act 2001.


2. When can shops open?
Retailers can choose their own opening hours - without restriction - for every day of the year, other than on 3½ restricted days.


3. On which days of the year can't shops open?
Shops must close on:

  • Christmas Day.
  • Good Friday.
  • Easter Sunday; and
  • Until 1.00 pm on Anzac Day.

There are few exceptions.

4. Can any shops open on restricted days?
Yes, but only certain types of shop, as follows:

  • Shops, such as dairies and service stations, selling:
    • Food.
    • Drink.
    • Household items.
    • Personal items.
    • Automotive fuel, lubricant, parts, or accessories.

If a shop normally sells any of the above items, this still does not automatically allow it to open on any of the restricted days.

This is because the law also specifies:

  • Most of the goods for sale in a shop must be of a kind that people may reasonably need to be able to buy at any time; and
  • The quantity of goods for sale must be no greater than that sufficient to meet the demands of the people who are living, staying or travelling through the area.

Shops selling mainly:

  • Souvenirs.
  • Duty-free goods.
  • Food ready to be eaten.
  • Bookstalls at public passenger transport terminals.
  • Pharmacies.
  • Shops at genuine exhibitions and shows.
  • Garden Centres may open on Easter Sunday only. (Garden Centres are defined a shops whose sole or principal business is the sale of plants or garden supplies or both).

This is a amendment of the Shop Trading Hours Repeal Amendment Act 2001.


5. Area exemptions.
Some shops trade in areas covered by area exemptions issued by the former Shop Trading Hours Commission under the previous law. Generally, these exemptions apply to tourist resorts such as Queenstown and Taupo.

These shops may still open on all or any of the restricted days, but only if their exemption order allows them to open.
There are no longer procedures available for:

  • Shops covered by such special exemptions to change them. The terms of these exemption orders remain fixed as at the time they were granted.
  • Other shops outside these areas to obtain special exemptions to trade on all or any of these 3½ days.


6. Offences & penalties.
If a shop does not clearly fit into one of the exempted categories listed here, it is an offence to open and trade during any time the law restricts trading. The occupier of a shop may be liable for a fine of up to $1,000. This includes the owner, proprietor or any agent, manager, supervisor, or person acting in the management or control of a shop. In the event of a prosecution, the occupier of the shop has to prove that the shop comes within one of the exemptions and is therefore able to open. Any interested person or group can prosecute.