08/05/2012 08:44 EDT | Updated 10/05/2012 05:12 EDT

Sunday shoppers enjoy expanded hours in Winnipeg

Winnipeggers are now able to shop earlier on Sundays, taking advantage of newly expanded Sunday shopping hours, but some question why stores can't stay open in the evenings.

A number of retailers opened as early as 9 a.m. on Sunday — three hours earlier than before — thanks to changes to the Retail Businesses Holiday Closing Act, which governs Sunday and holiday shopping hours in the province.

"It's just a lot more convenient," said James Pullar, who went grocery shopping with his children at a Safeway store that morning.

"With two young kids, by the time we get out at noon to shop, it's time for their lunch and then time for their nap."

Manitoba previously had one of the most restrictive retail laws in Canada, with most businesses limited to Sunday hours of 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The province changed the law to let municipalities pass their own bylaws if they want to extend shopping hours on Sundays.

The City of Winnipeg has passed its own bylaw, as have some other municipalities across the province.

Must close on evenings

But under the act, stores that open on Sundays must still be closed by 6 p.m.

"I think they should be open as long as they want. Like in Saskatchewan, they're open until, like, nine o'clock at night," said Tim Delorme, who also went shopping on Sunday.

"It was good; I liked that. They should just let them be open when they want."

The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce recently released a survey that suggested 64 per cent of respondents want retailers to be allowed to set their own Sunday hours.

"It's taken 20 years to get where we are now, so I'm hoping it's not going to take another 20 years for government to realize that retail shopping on Sundays is not a bad thing," said chamber spokesman Chuck Davidson.

However, the provincial government says it has no plans to revisit the issue of Sunday shopping hours.

Meanwhile, not all of Manitoba's municipalities are planning to offer extended Sunday shopping — or, in some cases, any Sunday shopping.

An hour's drive outside Winnipeg, the traditionally conservative city of Steinbach remains a place where no stores open on Sundays.