NSW retailers have welcomed the state government’s decision to think twice before prosecuting closed stores for restocking the shelves during the Easter shutdown, the Australian National Retailers Association (ANRA) said.

ANRA CEO Margy Osmond said legislation passed late last year meant basic store preparation – including taking deliveries and watering plants – was illegal until the shops were officially reopened to the public on Monday afternoon and the only time stores could prepare was during the downtime using volunteer workers. 

“Effectively shops would have been opening on ANZAC Day afternoon with as much stock on the shelves as when they closed with on Saturday. It would have been a case of ‘yes, we have no bananas, or milk, or bread’ – and customers would be the ones missing out,” she said.

“The government has taken the sensible approach on this issue, which will minimise disruptions to trading during the extended Easter break.

All staff working during the public holiday shutdown will do so voluntarily and be paid penalty rates.

ANRA completed a survey of shoppers and workers which showed that some 55 per cent are happy to work for extra pay on public holidays and holiday weekends.

“This announcement is definitely a step in the right direction. Trading hours legislation across Australia is a tangle of different requirements and holiday provisions and NSW is amongst the worst.  For New South Wales to be back open for business and visitors, the trading hours legislation needs a complete overhaul,” Osmond said.