Draft position paper sent to members for approval
The Chamber points out that many small businesses open on Sundays anyway, without consequences, and calls for the law to be changed to level the playing field.
It recommends that all businesses be allowed to open for a maximum of five hours on a Sunday in a move that it says would create jobs and lower prices for consumers.
Members of the business lobby group have been given until April 17 to confirm if they support or oppose a draft paper being circulated by Chamber leadership.
The paper states that Sunday shopping could be introduced without impacting Cayman’s Christian traditions.
It recommends that changes to employment legislation are also brought through to ensure Caymanians who do not want to work on a Sunday are not discriminated against in the job market.
“The Chamber of Commerce believes that Sunday trading laws should be amended to provide better choice and lower prices to consumers, additional economic opportunities to businesses, and additional employment,” the draft paper states. “We firmly believe that our proposed policy change would not pose any negative harm to our society or traditions.”
The Sunday Trading Law, 2003 revision, currently allows various businesses including bars, restaurants, gas stations and hair salons to open on Sundays.
In practice, the Chamber of Commerce says, many other businesses also open without “effective enforcement.”
Relaxing Sunday trading regulations, an issue that arises every few years and has been discussed numerous times, appears now to have relatively broad support in the business community. Prentice Panton, who runs several stores, including Food4Less, Liquor4Less and Reflections clothing store, said he had reversed his previous opposition to the concept.
He said, “There are businesses currently opening on Sunday in breach of the law and that is putting us at a competitive disadvantage. Some of the smaller convenience stores are doing phenomenal business on a Sunday.”
Woody Foster, of Foster’s Food Fair IGA, said the supermarket chain would open on Sundays if and when the laws were changed.
He said there would be additional costs involved, but they would likely be outweighed by the benefits.
The Chamber states, in its draft paper, that the current legislation also prevents employees from making extra money on a Sundays.
Changing the law would allow existing employees to supplement their income with overtime and create new full- and part-time jobs.
The paper acknowledges a threat to the Christian tradition of observing Sunday as a “day of rest,” as well as a potential negative impact on families’ “way of life.”
But it suggests that limiting the number of hours and giving employees the option to opt out of Sunday work would deal with those issues.
It points out that the current situation is unfair to consumers. “The price differential between purchasing goods on a Sunday compared to another day can be considerable. The cost of purchasing every day consumer goods at the gas stations is the most widely known example of this,” the draft paper states.