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City Retailers Fighting For Holiday Hours

Earlier this month, many people celebrated the Easter weekend by spending time with their families and friends. Some enjoyed big meals and large gatherings while others took time off to relax. And whether it was time to celebrate the occasion or not, most people revelled in the fact that they got an extra day off from work.

For most people, statutory holidays are welcomed times of the year that translate into long weekends. For others, it provides the ideal time to go shopping. Or at least it would be if stores were actually open on these holidays. Yesterday, Paul Moloney of the Urban Affairs Bureau reported on The Toronto Star‘s website that retailers are now pushing for the City of Toronto to allow them to stay open during the nine holidays throughout the year.

Including such days as Christmas and New Year’s Day, these holidays are traditionally days when nearly all stores are closed for business. And while many would not even consider shopping on these days, many others would find it ideal. Whether or not there will be a change in the forseeable future is anyone’s guess at this point.

Representing the retailers who are petitioning city hall for the law change that would allow for holiday shopping is John Kiru. Kiru is the executive director of the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas, representing some 27,000 businesses in the city.

“People want the choice, that’s the real issue,” said Kiru, who will bring his debate to the economic development committee next week to then go on to council for a final decision in May.

As Moloney informs us: “City council gained control over store hours when the City of Toronto Act came into effect in 2006. However, councillors decided to leave things as they had been, with holiday openings only for the Eaton Centre, Yonge St. strip, Yorkville, Harbourfront and the Distillery District.”

Kiru points out, however, that there has been neither enforcement nor any charges laid against retailers outside of the aforementioned areas. Added Kiru: “The situation has been very ambiguous. A week before any of these holidays, I’ll be getting hundreds of calls from people asking, ‘Can I stay open, why can’t I stay open?’ People have felt like criminals in trying to stay open during tough economic times when they felt they could make a few bucks.”

It is perhaps this building-of-the-economy argument that may make for Kiru’s strongest case on behalf of retailers across Toronto. Malls that are just outside of Toronto such as Vaughan Mills and Pacific Mall are granted the “tourist designation” allowing them to remain open during the holidays.

According to Councillor Kyle Rae who chairs the economic development committee, this steals business from malls in Toronto. Said Rae: “Members of council are not leading on this one. When it comes to this issue, for some reason members of council don’t want to make any change. But the city’s changing and the neighbourhoods are changing.”

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