The Saint John Board of Trade is asking its members for their views on giving businesses the freedom to set their hours on Sundays, following similar decisions in Moncton and Fredericton.

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Some Fredericton businesses are already advertising new Sunday shopping hours. Fredericton councillors recently voted to give them the flexibility to pick their own hours on Sundays. (CBC)

The business group is polling its members on their opinions about Sunday shopping hours. The move comes after Fredericton voted to allow retailers to set their own Sunday hours on Aug. 12.

Bathurst made a similar decision in May. Meanwhile, Moncton handed its business community that flexibility several years ago.

Mike Feener, the owner of the Canadian Tire store in west Saint John, said Sundays are extremely busy at his store.

"If you were to break it down by the hour, it would be the busiest day of the week," Feener said.

The store owner said people want to get to their household projects on Sundays and many of those projects involve a trip to his store.

"Whether we like it or not, it's just how society's going. And I think the natural progression would be to extend the hours to meet like most other days," he said.

Feener said he does not believe there would be any trouble finding employees to work the extra hours.

'Whether we like it or not, it's just how society's going. And I think the natural progression would be to extend the hours to meet like most other days.'— Mike Feener, store owner

"Staffing is not an issue, whether it's at night time, whether it's on a Saturday or Sunday, there's always people that are willing to work and want to work," he said.

Earlier this year, 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.

Opposition to Sunday shopping

The idea of extending Sunday shopping hours is not being endorsed unanimously in Saint John’s business community, however.

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Saint John council will have to decide whether it wants to follow the lead of Moncton, Fredericton and Bathurst and allow businesses to set their own hours on Sundays. (CBC)

In uptown Saint John, where many small retailers do not open on Sundays, business owners, such as Theresa Jennings of Scheherazade Books and Music said she sees no reason to change.

"I would be very hesitant to give up basically what is my one dedicated day a week to stay home and do nothing," she said.

Jennings said there are few people on the streets in Saint John’s uptown area on Sundays to warrant opening her store. 

The Saint John Board of Trade will eventually release the results of its survey and forward them to city council.

It will be up to Saint John politicians to make the final decision on whether to lift restrictions on Sunday shopping hours.