Chandigarh debates: To shop or not to shop on Sunday

June 19th, 2011 - 2:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, June 19 (IANS) Having emerged as one of the most favoured destinations for shopping and business activity north of Delhi, Chandigarh is now going through a dilemma - whether shops in its commercial hubs should remain open on Sundays or not.

Having first initiated the concept of allowing shops to remain open on all seven days of the week in 2004-05, the Chandigarh administration has to take a final call on extending the provision after the earlier permission expired May 31.

With the trading community now divided on the issue of Sunday shopping, the confusion over its continuance remains.

“It is very convenient for the residents of the city and those living outside Chandigarh to come here and do shopping on Sundays,” Subhash Kataria, president of the Sector 17 Traders’ Association, told IANS.

“We have to compete with malls and MNCs which remain open on all days,” he added.

Sector 17 is the city’s biggest commercial hub with hundreds of showrooms and shops attracting scores of shoppers every day. It not only caters to residents of Chandigarh and its nearby towns Panchkula and Mohali but also visitors from Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

“Traders are depositing more revenue to the union territory administration due to seven days working of shops. The administration should allow this again,” Kataria said.

Said Chandigarh home and labour secretary Ram Niwas: “We have allowed the shops to open on Sundays for now. We will be favourably recommending that Sunday shopping be allowed in future. The formal notification in this regard will be issued in the coming days.”

“Shopkeepers used to send their sector-wise representations for the next extension every year,” he said.

“This year, the representations were not received before the expiry of the permission. We have now received the representation and will soon decide on it,” he added.

The experiment of allowing shops to open on Sundays with permission had evoked a good response from shoppers. The parking areas of Sector 17 used to remain full on Sundays, clearly indicating that there is a Sunday clientele in the city.

“The decision not to extend the Sunday shopping facility would affect shoppers, particularly tourists, who have time and want to shop on weekends,” Chandigarh business council general secretary J.P.S. Kalra said.

Labour laws prohibit commercial establishments from being run on all seven days of the week. This is to allow the employees to have at least one weekly off day.

But traders who were opening their shops on Sundays in the last seven years said they had worked out weekly off days for their staff even while opening their establishments on Sundays.

City resident Sonali Verma said: “The administration should allow Sunday shopping. Not everyone, especially professionals, gets time during weekdays to go for shopping. In the evenings also, shops close by 8 p.m.”

After the Sunday shopping permission expired May 31, traders in various city sectors apprehended that the labour department would start issuing violation tickets (challans) to them for keeping shops open on Sundays.

However, the administration has allowed the shopkeepers to open on Sundays for the moment till the matter is finally decided.

“Even traders need a weekly off day to spend time with their families and relax. I personally don’t favour that shops be allowed to open on Sundays,” Sector 8 trader Mukesh Kumar said.

But some traders fear that if Sunday shopping is not allowed, then customers would look for options around Chandigarh, especially Panchkula in Haryana where shops open on Sundays and close on Mondays.

“Our customers may shift to make purchases in neighbouring states if our establishments are closed on Sunday,” Kataria said.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at jaideep.s@ians.in)

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