Cost-of-living concerns leave their mark on Easter

Kat Wong and Samantha Lock |

Retailers are prepared for the single busiest day of the year as the Good Friday frenzy begins.
Retailers are prepared for the single busiest day of the year as the Good Friday frenzy begins.

The prime minister joined the hordes at Sydney’s Easter show while other Australians have taken a more traditional approach to the start of the long weekend with a church service or escape from the city.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese made a whirlwind visit to the Royal Easter Show on Friday, cuddling a puppy and mingling with the farmyard animals ahead of a week of leave.

Mr Albanese said he had been coming to the show since he was young and had visited every year when his son was a child.

“Everyone’s equal when they’re at the show – they’re queueing to get on the rides, to get a Pluto pup or a bit of corn or whatever … it’s just a great celebration,” he told Sydney radio station 2GB.

Mr Albanese also noted the religious importance of Good Friday, saying the day was an important time for people to “renew their faith and renew their commitments”.

For Christians, the day marks the commemoration of Jesus’s death and is a solemn day of reflection.

In Melbourne and Sydney, worshippers gathered for re-enactments of his final journey to crucifixion and burial.

For others, the soaring cost of living has made traditional Easter feasts and travel more difficult.

Traders at Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market have been bracing for stretched household budgets to affect their seafood sales, while Sydney Fish Market tour guide Alex Stollznow said inflation had changed Easter appetites.

“One of the most pleasant surprises is people realising, ‘wow, cheap fresh fish tastes as good as expensive fresh fish’,” he said.

More than 1000 tonnes of seafood is set to be sold across the nation’s most popular fish markets as traders geared up for their single busiest day of the year.

Carmelo Lombardo, a retail manager at Sydney Fish Market store Get Fish, said customers started lining up from 4am.

“I didn’t expect the return rate to be so good, especially with the weather, but it’s been awesome. We haven’t had an Easter like this since pre-COVID,” he told AAP.

Thousands jostled through the market’s arcade on Friday morning – families in matching raincoats went elbow to elbow with tourists in search of a dry table as the aroma of cooked lobsters drifted through the main hall.

Tanisha Blake and her teenage relatives travelled almost 100km from the Central Coast to the fish market to indulge.

Hailing from a family of self-professed seafood fanatics, Ms Blake said inflation hadn’t necessarily changed her spending habits.

“But I have to save more carefully now because this is how I choose to spend,” she said.

It’s not just Easter lunches that will feel the pinch. 

Nearly two-thirds of Australians are planning to stay home this holiday period, with 40 per cent unable to afford accommodation or travel expenses, according to a survey commissioned by Tourism and Transport Forum Australia.

For those who will be travelling, most will stay in their home state.

Drivers can expect a bigger police presence on the roads as authorities work to manage the 21 per cent increased risk of death or injury over the holiday period.

Double demerit points are in force from Thursday through to Monday for drivers in NSW, the ACT and Western Australia.

Meanwhile, a spate of wet weather is set to batter most major cities.

A series of cold fronts will bring cool, wet and windy conditions across the southern states while severe thunderstorms are forecast to batter the east coast on Friday afternoon.

The grand parade at the Sydney Easter show was cancelled due to the potential storms.