The decision by the NSW Office of Industrial Relations to reject applications from many retailers to open on Easter Sunday highlights the inconsistencies of state trading hours legislation.

Retailers such as Coles, Woolworths, David Jones, Big W and Harvey Norman have been refused permission to trade in NSW on Easter Sunday.

“Retailers respect that many people in the community do not wish to shop on Easter Sunday. That’s their choice,” said Australian National Retailers Association (ANRA) CEO Margy Osmond.

“But there are many people who do and it seems strange that NSW legislation allows some businesses to open while closing others.

“Shoppers should be able to make their own decision when to shop, rather than a bureaucracy making the choice for them,” she said.

Under the Shop Trading Act it is an offence for any shop to trade on Easter Sunday. However, small shops with no more than four employees and stores located in the CBDs of Sydney, Newcastle and Cabramatta as well as some other regional areas will be allowed to open.

This means that on Easter Sunday pharmacies, newsagencies, restaurants, video shops and florists will be allowed to trade, but other retailers like department and hardware stores will be forced to remain closed.

“ANRA welcomed the NSW Government’s changes last year which allowed some much needed flexibility in trading hours, but it is disappointing that the new system is not giving shoppers more choice.”

Osmond said the same rules should apply to all retailers regardless of their size to ensure shoppers have choice.

“Under NSW law, employees cannot be forced to work on Easter Sunday. More importantly, retailers have no shortage of staff lining up and volunteering to work on Easter Sunday. Sunday is an important day for retailers. Up to 20 per cent of weekly trade happens on a Sunday.”