Saint John is moving toward expanded hours of Sunday shopping.

City council voted Monday night to have managers draft an amendment to the Sunday shopping by-law that would allow retailers to set their own hours. Currently, retail stores are allowed to open only between the hours of noon and 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Mayor Mel Norton made it clear he supports the change.

"This is something they want and it's the duty of us as council members to listen to the community and to the constituents," said Norton. "So it's something that's very authentic to support, something that comes from the people that are really driving our economy.

Sunday shopping change

Saint John city council has told staff to draft a bylaw amendment that would allow businesses to set their own hours of operation on Sundays. (CBC)

"We need to have every tool available to our business community to be successful," said Norton. "And they sent a message to us very loud and clear through the board of trade survey that this is something that they want."

At the Sept. 16 council meeting, the Saint John Board of Trade 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.

Council was divided on the issue at the Sept. 16 meeting and elected to table the discussion.

Coun. Shirley McAlary restarted the discussion Monday by reversing her earlier position against expanded Sunday hours.

"I think we have to support the people that are in the business and the people that are making a living at it," said McAlary.

'It's the duty of us as council members to listen.'- Coun. Shirley McAlary

"It's the duty of us as council members to listen."

Saint John is the latest community in New Brunswick to revisit the Sunday shopping debate. In the summer, Fredericton city council voted to relax its Sunday shopping hours with little opposition being expressed.

Opening hours in Saint John cannot be changed until council approves the new wording at a future meeting.