A majority of Fredericton businesses want the choice on when they can open their doors on Sundays instead of having their hours set by the government, according to a business group.

The Fredericton Chamber of Commerce asked its members for their opinions on the issue of Sunday shopping hours.

The contentious debate over Sunday shopping was reopened when the Retail Council of Canada announced it wanted both the New Brunswick and Prince Edward island governments to throw out rules restricting retail business hours on Sundays.

Most New Brunswick municipalities limit potential Sunday openings from noon until 5 p.m.

The Fredericton Chamber of Commerce said in its phone and email survey of 70 retail members 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.


Fredericton only allows businesses to open between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Sundays. (CBC)

The store owners also said businesses should not be required to expand their existing hours of operation to fulfill lease agreements, such as in shopping malls.

Further, 21 per cent of the Fredericton businesses contacted by the business group indicated they didn’t want the hours to change and 14 per cent wanted Sunday shopping eliminated entirely.

The chamber's survey was not a scientific poll.

Krista Ross, the chamber's chief executive officer, said the move to allow stores to pick their own hours could be confusing for some customers.

"There are lots open [on Sundays] now, some aren't. People are resourceful and find ways to figure this out," Ross said.

"Even though business owners say they want the choice, ultimately the choice will come down to what the consumer wants."

Retailers in Fredericton have called on the city to update its Sunday shopping bylaw in the past.

The former Bernard Lord government began allowing municipalities to decide if they wanted to allow their stores to open on Sundays.

That move prompted Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island to follow the province’s lead.

In Nova Scotia, business can decide what, if any, hours they will open on Sundays. Prince Edward Island businesses cannot open until noon, but they can choose their closing time.