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SUNDAY SHOPPING REVIEW

INTRODUCTION

During the final three months of 1993, unrestricted Sunday retail opening was permitted in Nova Scotia by virtue of an amendment to the Uniform Retail Closing Day Act. As this amendment applied only during the three-month period, the general prohibition against retail trading on Sunday is once again in place.

When introducing the Sunday shopping trial in the last Budget, the government agreed that it would review the policy once the trial period had ended. The question to be decided now is:

Should the ban on Sunday shopping be maintained, should it be lifted partially (at certain times of year and/or in certain locations), or should it be removed entirely?

BACKGROUND: SOLICITATION OF PUBLIC IN PUT

At the beginning of February, 1994 the Department of Finance placed announcements in newspapers inviting public views on the issue. Letters were sent to a range of retail associations, labour organizations, and related interest groups. Finance Department officials were made available for meetings with interested parties. As well, a random sample of public opinion was taken via a telephone survey conducted by Corporate Research Associates Limited.

SUMMARY OF MAIL AND FAX SUBMISSIONS

More than nine thousand written responses were received by the Department of Finance.

Responses opposing Sunday shopping overwhelmingly dominated, totalling 9,127.

Responses in favour of Sunday shopping totalled 305.

Petitions and collections of form letters accounted for the largest number of "votes" against Sunday shopping. As counted, 161 "group submissions" were recorded, containing 7,882 signatures. Individually submitted negative responses numbered 1,245.

Responses in favour of Sunday shopping numbered 305, of which 100 were individually submitted. The remainder were included in multiple submissions, including positive responses among retailer-organized petitions.

It should be noted that responses received during the first few days of the newspaper

N. S. Department of Finance April, 1994

SUNDAY SHOPPING REVIEW

advertisement were evenly divided. Thereafter, opposition voices became overwhelmingly dominant. This was largely, although by no means entirely, a reflection of organized efforts to mobilize opinion against Sunday shopping.

SUMMARY OF TELEPHONE SURVEY RESULTS

A random sample of 400 individuals over the age of 18 surveyed throughout the province offered no absolute majority opinion. One third favoured maintaining the current prohibition, one quarter favoured year-round Sunday shopping, and slightly more than one third favoured Sunday shopping on a limited seasonal basis. The results are broken down as follows and are considered accurate to +1- 4.9%, 19 times out of 20:

44 percent of those interviewed said they had personally shopped on Sunday during the trial period at stores normally closed on Sunday. 56 percent reported not having participated in Sunday shopping.

Of those who had not participated in Sunday shopping:


? 43 percent stated they had not because they did not need to;
32 percent said that they had not because they considered Sunday a day of rest;
9 percent cited family activities;
9 percent simply said they didn?t believe in Sunday shopping;
8 percent specifically cited religious reasons;
5 percent said they had to work;
15 percent stated other reasons, or none.

The total exceeds 100% because of multiple responses.


Those who had engaged in Sunday shopping were asked to identify their main reason
for having done so:
? 30 percent said they were too busy during the rest of the week;
? 28 percent said they had done so because it was the best time;
? 19 percent suggested they had gone Sunday shopping either because it was something new, or just to try it;
? 6 percent said they did so in order to finish Christmas shopping;
? 3 percent said they shopped on Sunday as a family leisure activity;
? 22 percent cited other answers or had no response.
The total exceeds 100% because of multiple responses.
Interviewees who had shopped on Sunday were asked if they felt they had spent more,

SUNDAY SHOPPING REVIEW

about the same amount, or less on goods and services during the three month experimental period than they would have spent had they not shopped on Sunday:


? 77 percent said that their had spent about the same amount;
? 15 percent felt they had spent more;
? 7 percent felt they had spent less.
All interviewees were asked which kind of Sunday shopping regime they would

personally favour.
? 33 percent favoured no Sunday shopping at all;
? 37 percent favoured Sunday shopping during certain seasons. (19 percent favoured the Christmas season, 16 percent preferred Christmas and the tourist season, and 2 percent favoured the tourist season only);
? 25 percent favoured Sunday shopping year-round;
? 5 percent had no preference or offered other responses.
Of those who favoured Sunday shopping, only 10 percent felt it should be restricted to certain areas of the Province. 83 percent felt that Sunday shopping should be province-wide if permitted. The remainder stated no preference or offered equivocal responses.

Save Our Sundays Group