Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Sunday shopping given the A-OK

Customers, owners like extra hours

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KALI Leary doesn't go shopping every Sunday morning, but having the option for the past couple of months has made her weekends more productive.

"I find it very useful, especially for shopping at grocery stores. If you're having a big family dinner on Sunday and need time to prepare things, the extra hours make a difference, especially on a holiday weekend," said the director of development at CancerCare Manitoba as she emerged from Pro Hockey Life on St. James Street.

She had stopped in to get her skates sharpened and buy a couple of jerseys. She said if her week is particularly busy, she finds the additional time on Sundays can help her catch up with sporting and other kinds of shopping.

In a completely unscientific poll taken in the Polo Park area by the Free Press on Sunday, most shoppers said the expanded hours would ultimately provide them with more convenience.

"I work a lot and the mornings are the only time to get things done. Weekend afternoons are filled with sports and family," said Brett Franklin, a partner at accounting firm MNP, who was loading a new 50-inch flat-screen television from Best Buy into his minivan. "In fact, I think it would be great if they expanded the hours on Saturday night past 6 p.m."

He said he couldn't tell if the new hours had diluted the number of people at the home electronics giant.

"It's busy in there all the time," he said.

Retail shopping hours were expanded throughout the province as of Aug. 1 from noon to 6 p.m. to "any period" between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. A number of major retailers, such as Walmart, Rona, Home Depot and Canadian Tire, have taken full advantage of the new bylaw and opened for the maximum hours on Sunday. Many smaller stores, on the other hand, haven't changed their hours at all, preferring to give their employees a bit of a break.

Art and Terri, who didn't want to use their last names, said they're glad the provincial government finally relented and expanded Sunday shopping.

"I feel a little sorry for the people who have to work there but then again, they're making more money," Art said. "But if I need to get something on a Sunday morning, I get it on a Sunday morning."

Terri said as the grocery shopper and cook for the family, the extra hours can make for a less hectic Sunday dinner. Some people, however, will never darken the door of a store on Sunday morning, she said.

"People who go to church aren't going to skip that to go to Best Buy," she said.

Deborah Green, general manager of Polo Parking Shopping Centre, said it has been opening at 11 a.m. since the new flexibility came into effect. She said the extra hour didn't make much difference for the first few weeks but she's starting to see increased traffic levels now.

"Our sales are up. Something is working right," she said.

Green said the manager of the the Bay store, Polo Park's anchor on the north side, has opted to unlock the doors at 10 a.m. on Sundays.

"He's finding that hour to be quite productive," she said.

"There are shoppers in the mall way earlier than there used to be. They used to get there at 12:30 or so. Now they're there at a quarter after 11. They're getting that extra hour of shopping in for sure."

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 15, 2012 B1

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