Fredericton is a step closer to giving businesses the freedom to pick what hours they want to open on Sundays.
In New Brunswick, Sunday shopping hours are determined by the municipality. Fredericton has restricted Sunday shopping to between the hours of 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. for several years.
Proposed changes to Sunday shopping hours made their way through first and second reading at a city council meeting on Monday without anyone from the public speaking for or against the motion.
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Fredericton Coun. Mike O’Brien said with no one speaking out against the resolution, it appears the changes will go through when the final vote comes up on Aug. 12.
While the proposal gets the municipal government out of restricting hours that businesses can open, O’Brien said he doubts many retailers will alter their hours.
"It offers the retailer the choice," he said.
"I don’t expect a lot of retailers are going to change their hours. I don’t expect it all. Proof is that, it’s been proven that other municipalities have done this, there’s been very little change."
O'Brien said he expects grocery stores to be one type of business that will likely take advantage of the changes to adjust their hours.
In February, the Retail Council of Canada urged New Brunswick municipalities to forego those restrictions and allow business to open when they want on Sunday.
Bathurst council scrapped its Sunday shopping bylaw in May and also gave stores the right to open when they want on Sundays.
Earlier this year, the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce surveyed 70 retail members and it found 65 per cent of respondents supported individual businesses being able to pick what hours they were open on Sundays. The chamber has 900 members in Fredericton.
Paul Simmonds, the owner of Robert Simmonds Clothing in downtown Fredericton, said retail business is changing.
With online and cross-border shopping becoming more common, Simmonds said retailers need to have more flexibility in their hours of operations.
Simmonds said he is endorsing the proposed changes so businesses can set their own hours for Sunday shopping
"Each retailer and business has its own pattern and wants the options, from my perspective, to be able to open," he said.
"It doesn’t necessarily they mean they have to open. It just gives them the opportunity, should they choose, to open."