Valerie Payn
Valerie Payn, President & CEO
 

It has been nearly 5 years since Sunday shopping became a reality in Nova Scotia and I am happy to report that the world has not come to an end.

The removal of the regulations that prevented most, but not all retailers, from serving their customers on specified days of the year, and most famously on Sunday, was a long fought battle for the Chamber and a number of other organizations. The Chamber is often credited with the victory of Sunday shopping, and while we are happy to accept the credit we were simply the last man standing at the end of a long battle.

The long debate that lead up to the October 2006 repeal of The Retail Business Uniform Closing Day Act was punctuated by predictions of societal collapse, family breakdown, and general lawlessness. When would we rest? How could we spend time with our families? What about the employees that would be forced to work seven days a week?

Now years later it seems the only fallout from having the ability to shop on Sunday is recent reports from Grocery stores that Sunday has become their busiest day. Given that per capita expenditure (adjusted for inflation) has not increased it appears also that the opportunity to shop an extra day has not driven people to purchase what they don’t need any more than they did before, they can just do it at a time that is more convenient to them.

This only further proves that the real issue may never have really been about Sunday shopping, but rather about the irrational fear of change and an unhealthy habit of deferring to those who object to change. We often hear that not listening to the concerns of all groups who wish to express them is “undemocratic”. I would submit that allowing the opinions of a small minority to trump the wishes of the majority is the real crisis in our democracy.

Downtown development, a new convention centre, and a smaller municipal council are all issues that have been supported by the majority but that have been held up by the fear mongering delay tactics of a minority special interest group whose primary weapon is the politeness of the rest of us and, in its most extreme, an apathy brought on by sheer exhaustion with the debate.

Let Sunday shopping be a lesson: firstly, that change is not to be feared and if done right will be a good thing. Secondly, that minority opposition groups while allowed their say should not be allowed to use our preference for fairness to get their way over the wishes of the majority.