hi-shopping

Some stores are planning to open as early as 7 a.m. instead of the usual noon opening.

New Sunday shopping hours go into effect in Saint John this weekend.

Retailers in the city are now allowed to set their own hours and many aren't wasting any time.

Wal-Mart on the city's east side will be the early bird, opening at 7 a.m. Sunday. Grocery stores across the city are planning to open at  9 a.m.. Kent and Costco will open at 10 a.m.

Many of the shoppers CBC News spoke with welcome the convenience of extended hours.

"I like the stores open," said Chris McGraw.

Steven Maxwell agrees. "If I was working night shift, I always get off on a Sunday morning. So if that was my first day off, I might be inclined to go there before I got home," he said.

"What's the difference, why not? If a store wants to stay open, let them stay open," said John Fournier.

McAllister Place Mall does not plan to change its current Sunday hours of noon to 5 p.m., said general manager Dave Green.

"We may adjust that in the future, but at this point we're going to maintain the status quo," he said.

Some other retailers, such as Canadian Tire, are also taking a wait-and-see position, saying they may make changes in the coming weeks.

Until now, the city's bylaw restricted stores to being open between noon and 5 p.m. on Sundays.

But city council gave final approval to a bylaw amendment on Oct. 7.

Last month, the Saint John Board of Trade had presented the results of a survey of its members, indicating that 85 per cent of those responding wanted retailers to set their own hours of business on Sundays.

Saint John is the latest community in New Brunswick to revisit the Sunday shopping debate.

Fredericton city council voted to relax its Sunday shopping hours this summer with little opposition being expressed.