A group that represents retailers is hoping to convince the provincial government to change the rules to let businesses decide what time they open on Sundays.
Jim Cormier, a spokesman for the Retail Council of Canada, said a lot of customers would like to see more flexibility in the opening hours. He also said many businesses think it is as much a matter of principle as anything else.
“Why is government dictating to retailers or private business in general when they can or cannot open?” he asked.
The Sunday shopping rules, which came into effect in 2010, allow for Island businesses to open at 12 p.m. on Sundays with the exception of certain holidays.
It was a change that saw an even split in the legislative assembly when it came time to vote on the bill and forced then Speaker of the house Kathleen Casey to break the tie.
Cormier said businesses should be able to consider the financial and human resource ramifications of opening earlier on Sundays.
“Obviously, a good employer is going to want to make sure that they can attract and keep their employees,” he said.
The rules are different in the neighbouring provinces. Nova Scotia doesn’t regulate the opening hours on Sundays while in New Brunswick, it varies by municipality.
Cormier said some businesses that have the freedom to open earlier have decided not to do so.
“For the most part, a lot of retailers are still operating their business from 12 to 5 (p.m.) because they don’t feel that there’s a business case for being open any longer,” he said.
The Retail Council of Canada will have a chance to make the pitch to the government for a change to the hours of operation when representatives meet with Labour Minister Janice Sherry on Thursday.
Cormier said he realizes the issue hasn’t been a big consideration for most people over the last few years.
“It’s more about starting the conversation again,” he said.
Although a meeting with Sherry is planned, it’s unlikely there will be any changes coming to the opening hours.
Sherry, who voted against the change in 2010, said a lot of work was done to consult with businesses about hours of operation before the legislation came into effect.
Islanders weren’t in favour of unregulated opening hours at that time, she said, and added she hasn’t heard from any P.E.I. businesses or residents since then about extending them.
“I have not been approached in any way, shape or form by Islanders or Island businesses at this time,” she said.