Results from a survey of downtown business owners in Owen Sound probing a lack of shopping options on Sundays were shared at a recent Economic Development and Tourism Advisory meeting.
According to committee minutes, 265 business owners within the Downtown Improvement Area were invited to do the survey and 74 responses were received. Committee members also canvassed at 21 stores for face-to-face responses.
The purpose of the survey was to study the reasons why most businesses choose not to open Sunday, and to determine if there is an opportunity to provide a Sunday shopping experience?
"About 75 per cent of the businesses surveyed are not open," says Owen Sound Economic Development and Tourism Advisory Committee member Mike Comello. "Those that are open said they are because they do see a benefit, both to their customers and financially."
Comello explains the majority of businesses indicated they are not open on Sundays because it is their day off and they are not able to get staff to work.
The second most popular response from business owners surveyed who choose not to open on Sundays is because it would not generate enough revenue.
There were also seven respondents who said they can't open on Sundays, because their lease does not allow them to.
Downtown business owners were also asked: what would need to change to consider being open on Sundays?
Several respondents noted that other businesses downtown would have to be open in order for them to consider being open on Sundays.
"Many of them talked about having a critical mass of businesses open during that time," says Comello. "... They also spoke about long-term marketing being needed to support a transition to maybe being open on Sunday."
Comello says a marketing strategy would be necessary to alter the perception downtown Owen Sound is not open on Sundays.
"Right now, the perception is it's closed on Sundays and there is not much activity," Comello notes.
Comello says the next steps in the process will be to provide the survey results to the Downtown Improvement Area board as it prepares to work with a destination development consultant.
"And just see what ideas they can come up with to hopefully encourage more businesses to be open on Sunday," Comello adds. "And to support those businesses as well."