Sunday trading desired in CI

The results of the Chamber of Commerce survey on Sunday trading released this week show a large majority of Cayman residents want businesses to have the option of opening on Sundays.

‘We thought that from the beginning,’ said Woody Foster, managing director of Foster’s Food Fair. ‘This pretty much cements it.’

Foster’s has led the efforts to allow Sunday trading after it opened on Sunday for several months after Hurricane Ivan, partially due to the curfew restricting opening hours on other days.

The Sunday hours proved very popular with residents, and Foster’s was able to collect about 7,500 signatures in one month on a petition supporting Sunday trading.

The Chamber survey results reinforce those of a Caymanian Compass on-line poll conducted in July, where only 18.7 per cent of respondents were opposed to Sunday trading.

The Chamber survey looked at three subsets of respondents: its general membership, its member merchants, and website responses.

The chamber website survey results showed 20 per cent of respondents opposed Sunday trading to the point they would support a law prohibiting all business with the exception of those serving tourists and emergency services from opening on Sunday.

All three chamber survey respondent subsets supported giving all businesses the option of opening on Sundays, with 84 per cent of website respondents, 75 per cent of membership respondents and 68 per cent of the merchant respondents.

The survey showed chamber members and member merchants were somewhat less enthusiastic about Sunday trading than the general public.

‘There is still a level of opposition in the merchant community to Sunday trading,’ said Chamber CEO Wil Pineau. ‘That opposition was reflected in our survey.

‘One of the interesting findings of the survey was that even if some stores were allowed to open on Sundays, they wouldn’t.’

Only 44 per cent of member merchants and 45 per cent of general Chamber membership said they would open on Sundays.

Comments submitted with the Chamber survey showed most people wanted supermarkets to be allowed to open on Sunday.

‘It is hypocritical to allow bars and restaurants to be open whilst supermarkets cannot,’ said one respondent.

‘As far as I’m concerned… If someone can go to a bar and get drunk on Sunday, I should be able to go and shop for food for my family.’

The quality of life issue of Sunday trading was also dealt with in the Chamber survey.

While only 17 per cent of website respondents thought Sunday trading would diminish Cayman’s quality of life, while 34 per cent of the general membership and 37 per cent of member merchants thought it would.

Some church groups have opposed Sunday trading.

‘Allow choice,’ said one survey respondent. ‘Give freedom of choice and let people make up their own minds about whether they want to shop or go to church.’

Still another recommended separating church and state.

‘I assume the reason for the law was to maintain a certain quality of life in regard to respecting the Sabbath, but (Sunday) isn’t everybody’s Sabbath. Sunday trading makes no allowances for Seventh Day Adventists and other religions that consider days other than Sunday to be their holy days.’

Some respondents, however, thought opening on Sundays was a trade-off of values and morals for money.

One respondent thought Sunday trading did in fact erode family unity.

‘Sunday trading has destroyed family time in the UK, forcing people to work, keeping roads busy seven days a week, and has increased business costs. People by a finite volume of goods; opening on Sunday does not increase this.’

Mr. Pineau said the survey results had been presented to Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts.

‘It’s now up to the Government to make a decision,’ he said.