Foster’s Food Fair announced this week that it would no longer open on Sundays until such a time as the Sunday Trading Laws are changed.
Foster’s received permission from the National Hurricane Committee to open on Sundays in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan when there was a curfew imposed and a widespread lack of refrigeration.
The supermarket chain has kept the Sunday hours since then, having never been asked to cease the practice.
Managing Director Woody Foster said the Sunday hours have been well received.
‘The response to remain open on Sundays has been overwhelming,’ he said. ‘We have been busy seven days a week, with every sector of the population shopping on Sundays, from members of the Legislative Assembly and Cabinet ministers, policemen, business professionals, tourists, and families going to or coming from church… I was amazed by how many customers supported and were thankful for Sunday opening.’
Mr. Foster said the supermarket has consulted with member of Government, the police, the Department of Employment Relations and the Chamber of Commerce for advice on whether to remain open on Sundays.
The Chamber of Commerce is currently running a poll about people’s feelings about Sunday trading.
Some members of the clergy have expressed concern over the practice, citing religions reasons.
Some have also said it is a departure from traditional cultural values.
Other grocery stores have not followed suit.
Randy Merren of Hurley’s supermarket said he does not support Sunday trading for a number of reasons.
‘Sunday’s should still be left for families and church,’ he said.
Mr. Merren said that if Foster’s were allowed to be open, it would be unfair to the other supermarkets.
‘If they stay open, we would have to look at it, too,’ he said.
If everyone were on a level playing field, Mr. Merren said Sunday trading would actually lower profits.
‘It would be spreading the same sales over seven days a week instead of six while increasing costs,’ he said.
Foster’s points to customer convenience and the inconsistencies in the law as reasons why Sunday trading should be allowed.
‘Many of our employees, including myself, and employees in dozens of establishments throughout the island have always had to work on Sundays to have business prepared for Monday,’ said Mr. Foster.
‘The issue of allowing family time has always been addressed by giving other days off each week. Sunday trading would simply allow people in the community who wanted to benefit from the convenience of shopping on a Sunday to do so.’
Many other retailers that cater to tourists as well as residents are open on Sundays, including jewellery stores, souvenir shops and some hairdressers.
Foster’s said it would continue taking steps to have the Sunday Trading Law reviewed by the Government.
‘Many people in the community still need to be able to get fresh food on Sundays and it’s obvious by the number of people shopping with us on a Sunday that there is a huge demand for it,’ he said. ‘We ask that those in the community who support being able to shop on Sundays let their view be heard.
‘We will be taking measures to represent the voice of Sunday shopping supporters and we ask for the support of the community at that time,’ he said.