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New Zealand - Shopping

Supermarkets in New Zealand are slightly different from those that you may have come across in the UK or the US. There is less emphasis on pre-packed processed foods as the culture in New Zealand is for fresh, seasonal produce. There are a number of supermarket chains, although some of these tend to focus only on one area. It should be remembered that the country has a fairly small population and the demand for a wide variety of product lines just does not exist.

One of the cheapest supermarkets is called Pak’N Save and these are mainly found in the Christchurch area. Pak’N Save is a budget store, so the emphasis is less on the décor than the prices. Other popular supermarkets include Woolworths, Foodtown and Big Fresh. In stores such as Woolworths it is common for the shop assistants to pack the bags for you, but in budget stores you need to do this yourself. It is common for those who live outside the cities to drive in every few weeks to stock up on non-perishable items, as to purchase these at a small rural store can be very expensive.

Another option for fresh farm produce is the ‘orchard shops’ which are in the cities. These are farm shops which are located away from the farms and these offer good quality produce at a price which is often more reasonable than at the local supermarket, particularly if you want to buy in bulk. Supermarkets frequently have special offers on goods such as half price or ‘buy one get one free’ offers.

All shops need to close for 3½ days each year by law. These are Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and until 1 pm on Anzac Day. There are options in place for shops to open on restricted days if they sell items which are considered to be essential, such as baby food, or if they provide a service, such as hairdressing rather than selling goods. There are no restrictions on outlets such as real estate agents and pharmacy. Garden centres are permitted to open on Easter Sunday but not on any other day. Souvenir shops are also considered to be unrestricted although New Zealand has strict guidelines about what constitutes a souvenir. Most shops will adhere to these opening days. In rural areas shopping is usually limited to between 8 am and 6 pm, although stores such as pharmacies may open later. Shops in cities are normally open until 6 pm although shops in malls may be open later than this and shops in busy areas will also have longer opening hours.

There are a number of laws in place in New Zealand which protect the consumer. These include the Fair Trading Act which prevents retailers from misleading their customers or giving them false information and the Consumer Guarantees Act which details the guarantees which must be offered by a retailer when selling goods and services. The government has a consumer affairs department which details these acts on their website and which can point customers in the right direction if they feel that they have a complaint. In the event that you need to make a complaint you should first approach the retailer. Unless the retailer suspects that the item has been deliberately damaged or it has been a very long time since it was purchased they should be able to exchange the item or refund the original cost.

It is possible to get deliveries from shops in the UK or the US but the availability and quality of most consumer goods in New Zealand is excellent, so this is not something that most expats would do. Auction site eBay does have its own New Zealand site and customers can also buy from eBay sites based in other countries.

Most shops take cash and debit and credit cards although in some rural areas consumers may find that cash is the preferred option. Many shops will accept a cheque if it is accompanied with a cheque guarantee card, although there are not many consumers now using this method due to the increase in use of debit cards.

Sales occur usually twice a year, during the summer and in the New Year, although it is common for small stores to hold a sale if they want to boost business.

Useful Resources

Consumer Affairs

Read more about this country

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