Joanne MacPhee *File photo
Joanne MacPhee *File photo

WEDNESDAY, JAN. 11: Retailers have come out in support of the idea of Sunday trading during the cruise season.

But they say it will only help boost profits as long as there is a cruise ship in Bermuda.

The move comes after Transport Minister Derrick Burgess urged shop owners to open their businesses to cruise passengers on a Sunday this summer.

He also announced on Monday that the Cabinet would look at the possibility of allowing cruise ships to open their casinos while they were in port.

Joanne MacPhee, Executive Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce, said that Sunday opening would not be an option for all retailers however.

She told the Sun: “The Chamber and its membership is committed to doing whatever is best for commerce in Bermuda, so in principle, yes we are supportive of Sunday shopping during the cruise ship season, which runs April to October.

“However, for the majority of our members it only makes sense to open when there is actually a cruise ship in port, whether it be in Dockyard or Hamilton.

“According to the approved 2012 cruises ship schedule, there are a total of 27 Sunday visits planned, although several of those will come into Dockyard too late in the day to add any commercial value to our members in the City of Hamilton.

“Also, it is important to note that not all of our retail partners are geared towards the cruise ship passenger, so for them Sunday shopping may make absolutely no commercial sense.”

Complaints

Earlier this week Transport Minister Derrick Burgess revealed cruise passengers often complained that shops in Hamilton and St George’s were closed on a Sunday.

And he urged retailers to consider Sunday afternoon openings while ships were in port.

But Paula Clarke, head of the retail division of the Chamber of Commerce, told the Sun that many retailers already opened their doors on a Sunday at Christmas as well as during the summer.

She said she would welcome talks with government to make Sunday shopping more effective.

She said: “There has to be suitable transportation services in place including ferries in order to make Sunday opening work and bring visitors down from Dockyard into Hamilton.

“For small stores it is harder as they are sole employee operations and it would put a big strain on the business to have to open seven days a week.

“Different businesses would have different issues with Sunday opening.

“I think if there was some more balance, a tourism package, combined with a large or a small cruise ship, Sunday opening could be beneficial.

Volume

“Between January and March there is not enough volume coming into the city of Hamilton to warrant a lot of stores opening. Sunday shopping is just not viable for many stores.”

Charles Gosling, Mayor of Hamilton, said a cruise presence in Hamilton was vital to retailers.

He added: “The question of whether casinos should be able to open in port has not come before the council yet and we have not made a decision.

“But I personally am willing to support the Minister whatever way we can in getting a consistent cruise into Hamilton.

“Some years ago we lost a regular cruise ship into Hamilton and the impact on the city was devastating.

“We are still feeling the blows from it now.

“I would encourage retailers to think about opening on a Sunday to take advantage of any extra business there is.”