Retail legislation already obsolete

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Across much of Canada, Boxing Day is the busiest shopping extravaganza of the year. After a day and a half of visiting friends and family, and dining on turkey, Canadians are ready to bust out. They are looking for those post-holiday bargains and Boxing Day blowout sales, use those gift cards found under the tree or make exchanges on sweaters a size too big or too small. Lineups are common hours before stores open.
Anyone watching Saturday newscasts saw shoppers clogging stores in Ontario and Quebec. Everyone seemed to be doing his or her part to boost the economy as part of an annual post-Christmas ritual.
 Except on P.E.I.
Here, retail stores were closed Saturday and had to remain closed until noon Sunday or face a $10,000 fine. Since most businesses closed early Christmas Eve, stores were shut down for the equivalent of three full shopping days at the busiest time of the year for retailers.
Many people visiting P.E.I. for the holidays left for home Saturday or Sunday and never got a chance to drop some money with our retail operators. It was unfortunate timing that Sunday fell the day after Boxing Day this year and only further illustrates the absurdity of P.E.I.’s Retail Business Holidays Act.
Legislation says that on P.E.I., Sunday shopping is permitted after 12 p.m. year round but stores must remain closed on designated retail holidays. P.E.I. stores must advertise Boxing Week sales because Boxing Day sales are a misnomer. Just to get to this epochal point in P.E.I. holiday shopping history took years of debate and a razor-thin vote in the legislature. The law is already obsolete and need changes because it’s already 2016.
It should be up to businesses when they open and let the marketplace decide hours of operation. There are already numerous exceptions to the legislation because gas stations, pharmacies, smaller stores and restaurants can open whenever they want. Large businesses and large employers are being penalized. If the demand is there, stores will open to supply that demand. It shouldn’t be up to government to regulate the marketplace or decide when and how retail operations make money or stay afloat.
There is also the growing threat from online shopping – already making deep inroads in the retail sector. That phenomenon will accelerate because of our antiquated legislation. Restricting our local retailers’ ability to operate threatens jobs and taxes.
It’s time for government to butt out.

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Recent comments

  • nitpicker
    January 05, 2016 - 18:18

    I read this editorial wondering two things: How does one define "obsolete"; and, does the Guardian feel there should be any statutory holidays at all? Many think that banning canned beverages was "behind the times". Some would argue that recyclable, bottled, packaging was actually very forward-thinking. Similarly, there are those who feel that legislated vacation/hours of work etc. is also very progressive for society at large. I wonder what the Guardian's position on "Islander Day" was, when it was introduced a few years ago? Let's face it: if it were up to retail, stores would be open 365 days per year. Should regulators step in to allow for a moment of peace, to anyone who would desire it, from shopping? I suggest they should. The online world is there for those who desire it. And for others, PEI Boxing Day sales are ready to go on December 27. If you want to open up Boxing Day to the whims of retail, then you must be prepared to apply that logic to every day of the year. For me, a half-dozen days of legislated "no shopping" per year does far more good than harm.

  • Joe Doe
    January 04, 2016 - 15:23


  • speterzon
    January 04, 2016 - 12:30

    I must applaud the government for having a set of brass ones and not cave in to the big retailers to open longer on Sunday's I have spend 29 years in retail,were I have seen the changes in retail workers life's we went from having a somewhat decent weekend to only having 1 weekend a month I feel sorry for all these people that cannot entertain themselves for 1 day a week using the excuse shiftwork or a busy mother does not wash because in the older day's there were people with the same issues and they did not suffer think of it this way 'what would you do if your boss came you to you and said we are opening 7 day's a week and your weekend is now during the week if you dont like it find an other job now there is some food for thought