November 27, 2021

The Editor Speaks: Sunday trading: Will it really make a difference?

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Colin WilsonwebWith a whopping 75% of the membership of the Cayman Islands who participated in the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce Sunday Trading Survey executed in 2005 in favour of allowing all businesses the option of opening on Sundays, I do not foresee any different result when the Government obtains the views on the same subject from the general public.

In January 2014, Johann Moxam, President of the Chamber, announced they would still be pushing for Sunday Trading, after a more recent membership online survey reconfirmed majority membership support for the introduction of Sunday trading.

Actually, we do have a certain amount of Sunday trading:

Drug stores and dispensaries; restaurants, hotels and lodging houses; establishments that sell motor fuel or oils; motor vehicle repair shops or service stations; establishments selling bread, ice, ice cream, non-alcoholic beverages, milk, newspapers, bottled water and water in bulk; establishments governed by any law in force in the islands regulating the sale of intoxicating liquor; establishments approved by the Governor-in-Council by publication in the Gazette for the sale of duty-free goods; establishments concerned in watersports or sightseeing attractions; establishments in a hotel that sell souvenir items, toiletries and medical supplies; establishments that sell funeral caskets or flowers; establishments that sell victuals stores or other necessaries required for a ship or aircraft on arrival at or immediately before departure from a port or airport in the islands; hairdressing and beauty salons; airline and shipping offices; establishments carrying on retail business at an airport; establishments concerned in the rental of motorcars, motorcycles or bicycles or in the rental or charter of boats; establishments engaged in the sale or supply of toiletries; establishments engaged in the sale or supply of baby products (other than clothing or toys); and I have probably missed a few others.

The glaring odd one out, of course, is supermarkets at present are not allowed to open on Sundays! That one has raised a number of complaints from visitors arriving from abroad on a Sunday and unaware of this law have no food to cook themselves. They have to dine out.

I would have imagined that would have made the restaurants happy but perhaps they aren’t as bright as I thought if they actually voted for current the law to be changed.

So why is their a seemingly huge number of people here wanting Sunday Trading?

Is it convenience for the general public? I don’t think anyone has actually suffered any harm because of our present law. I have never seen crowds of people banging on the doors of the supermarkets to be allowed in otherwise they will die.

By the crowded stores on Saturday they have learnt to stock up.

Do the commercial storeowners really think they are going to make large profits from opening on Sundays?

If I need something on a Sunday I wait for Monday to purchase it, as I believe nearly everybody does. The storeowners don’t lose out. In fact they gain. They do not have to open the store, pay staff to be on the premises and serve any customers, plus there is the expense for lighting, air-conditioning, etc.

Wayne Panton, Cayman’s Commerce Minister, said in asking for the public’s views (see yesterday’s iNews Briefs – “Cayman Islands’ public asked for views on Sunday Trading” at: “the public consultation is in line with other Government proposals that are intended to encourage economic activity, provide support for local commerce, and positively impact employment opportunities”. Yes, it might give a few extra hours employment but I do not think Sunday Trading will ‘positively impact employment’!

I cannot find any evidence our present Sunday trading laws have impacted tourism at all. Do you really think a tourist’s top priority in choosing a destination is whether all shops will be open on a Sunday?

And of course, the churches are opposed to it.

In England there are laws there prohibiting certain shops from opening on a Sunday. When the laws were relaxed because of the Olympic Games in 2012 there was this response:

“It just breaks up that regular time where people can be together.”

“It’s a form of idolatry – it’s the idol that boosting the economy is the absolute which over-rides all other considerations.”

“Sunday should be a time for relationships, there should be a time when we put some boundaries on consumerism, so you can go to the park and play football with the kids, and take your mum breakfast in bed.”

“We [the Church of England] believe that for family stability and community life, as many people as possible should have the possibility of a common day off every week. The potential detrimental impact on the health of employees, and on small retailers, outweigh any potential benefits of further deregulation.”

My personal view is the only benefit to changing our Sunday Trading Law is convenience.

If the law is relaxed there will be an immediate rush to open up and the public will use it but at the end of the year when the sums are done I doubt it will be deemed a commercial success.

And it will be at the expense of our family life.

Ed Balls, the UK’s Shadow Chancellor, warned, “We should be very careful about breaking Sunday trading.”

I agree with him.

Sunday trading: will it really make a difference?

It might – but to the detriment – our family life. Unfortunately, that has no commercial value.




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