Supermarkets appeal 'flawed' laws

Supermarket chains are appealing against reduced liquor-selling hours in South Canterbury, saying the new rules are "flawed" and "without evidence".

The Timaru, Waimate and Mackenzie district councils' joint Local Alcohol Policy (LAP) allows off-licence stores to sell alcohol from 7am to 9pm.

However, Progressive Enterprises and Foodstuffs say off-licences should be able to trade from 7am to 11pm, while retailer Super Liquor would "accept" 7am to 10pm.

The councils approved the provisional LAP on January 30.

However, Timaru District Council regulatory services manager Chris English said the appeals would delay the LAP becoming law by several months.

This means the off-licence trading hours in Timaru, Waimate and Mackenzie districts would be set at the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act's "default maximum hours" of 7am to 11pm.

Progressive, which owns the Countdown franchise, argued the councils had not identified "any local or national evidence".

"The councils have not clearly identified the actual alcohol-related harm in its local community that it seeks to minimise ... Consequently, it is impossible to assess the effectiveness and appropriateness (of the proposed LAP)," the appeal says.

Foodstuffs took exception to submissions by the South Canterbury District Health Board and NZ Police, which argued reduced off-licence hours would curb the number of people "pre-loading" on alcohol before going to bars in town.

"The submissions are logically inconsistent and unreasonable," Foodstuffs' submission says.

"The fact Foodstuffs does not currently operate any of its stores beyond 9pm in the district is not a legitimate ground to reduce the default hours. The hours Foodstuffs operate are determined by its customers and demand."

Foodstuffs owns the Pak 'n Save, Four Square and New World franchises.

Countdown is open in Timaru from 8am to 9pm, while Pak 'n Save and New World Timaru open from 7am to 9pm.

Super Liquor has Stafford St and Evans St stores in Timaru.

The Evans St store is open from 10am to 9pm from Sunday to Wednesday, and 9.30am to 10pm from Thursday to Saturday. The Stafford St store has the same opening hours, except for Sunday (10am to 8pm).

A Countdown spokeswoman said the 7am to 11pm licence granted it "flexibility to operate based on consumer needs", such as before Christmas.

English could not comment on the appeals, as they would be heard by the Government-appointed Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority (Arla).

An Arla spokesman said the appeals would be heard "later this year".