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Loosening up the strings on Sunday shopping
As part of the 2012 budget released last week, the provincial government announced its intention to relax Sunday shopping laws in Manitoba and allow extended hours.
What exactly that will look like remains to be seen, although the plan is to have changes in place before this year’s holiday shopping season (a deadline which just so happens to match the expected opening date of Winnipeg’s first IKEA).
Finance Minister Stan Struthers mentioned the hectic schedules of today’s families and the increased competition facing local stores from both online and cross-border shopping options as justifications for loosening current provincial restrictions.
While I don’t buy the cross-border argument (is he really suggesting that people go to Albertville because they can’t shop on Sunday mornings here?), he probably has a point when it comes to changing consumer habits.
For many people, Sunday is just another day — an assertion I make with a fair degree of confidence, having spent more than a decade working full-time in retail (a career every bit as glamorous as it sounds, I assure you). So why not treat it as such? Lots of other industries already operate outside the hours of noon and 6 p.m. on Sundays. What makes the retail industry so special?
The government will be consulting with business groups, labour unions and the general public before making any changes. No doubt that process will be an interesting one, as opinions on this issue are plentiful.
I stand firm in my contention that many people already shop on Sundays and, as such, will have no problem with extended hours (if anything, they’ll probably welcome the idea with both open arms and open wallets, delighted by the prospect of purchasing groceries in the morning, just as they are delighted by stores that are open 24 hours a day during the holidays). Many retailers and at least some retail employees will likely be in favour of the idea, too; after all, whether you’re a boss or a cashier, more hours of operation means the opportunity to make more money.
However, there are also those who are opposed to the idea, whether it’s because they feel Sundays should be a day for downtime with friends and family, or because they recognize that small business owners who do want to be open seven days a week may now feel pressure to do so, with all the associated costs that it entails, lest they lose a sale to the other guy. Their arguments have some merit, too.
Though I have no problem with Sunday shopping per se, I’m not a proponent of extended hours, mainly because I think allowing more time to shop only serves to exacerbate already-out-of-control consumerism in our society. Sure, we might want to shop at all hours of day and night — and it’s worth mentioning that we already can, thanks to convenience stores and the Internet — but we certainly don’t need to. We already shop too much. We don’t need any more enabling.
Marlo Campbell spends Sunday mornings sleeping.
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(1 of 5 articles for this week)05/22/2013 1:00 AM 0
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