Paula Clarke, CEO at Gibbons Company. *File photo
Paula Clarke, CEO at Gibbons Company. *File photo

A survey of residents shows they want to have the option of the Washington Mall being opened on Sundays. 

Washinton Properties commissioned Total Research Associates to conduct a study with Washington Mall customers to determine what can be done to help drive business to local retailers.

Paul Slaughter, general manager of Washington Properties (Bermuda) Ltd. Said in a press release: “Most residents are aware of the pressure that is on Bermuda’s retailers due to the continuing recessionary climate. 

“The results of this study clearly show that there are a number of opportunities to increase customer traffic to the stores and restaurants in the Washington Mall. We will be looking at these opportunities very closely and hope to be able to launch some exciting new initiatives shortly.”

Graham Redford, president and CEO of Total Research Associates, said: “Washington Mall is highly favourable with nearly six in ten shoppers rating the Mall as ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’. An additional four in ten shoppers have a ‘fairly good’ opinion of the Mall and only two percent expressed a ‘fairly poor’ or ‘very poor’ opinion of the Mall. 

“When asked their likelihood of visiting the Mall during the planned extended hours on Wednesday for Harbour Nights, nearly three-quarters of those surveyed say they would either definitely or probably visit the Mall during this time.  

“As expected, local residents were more likely to express an intention of visiting the Mall during these extended hours.”  

 Mr. Slaughter added “One of the interesting facts found was that 76 per cent of Washington Mall Users would like to see more retail businesses open on Sunday. And of those 76 per cent who would like to see more retail businesses open on Sunday, 86 per cent would definitely / probably visit the Washington Mall on a Sunday. We recognise that Sunday opening is a contentious issue but one that we feel merits further discussion with Government, the Chamber of Commerce and other vested parties.”

Paula Clarke, CEO at Gibbons Company, and is also chairman of the retail division of the Chamber of Commerce, said: “These results speak to what we (as the Chamber) have been saying for some time now which is that the Public Holiday Act 1947 needs revision. Currently, retailers with floor space of 2,500 square feet or above are restricted to opening between 1pm and 6pm on any public holiday, except for Christmas Day and Good Friday.”

Joanne MacPhee, executive director of the Chamber added: “The Chamber is advocating for two precise changes to the Act: 1) Sunday should not be deemed by law to be a Public Holiday, and 2) that no business should be restricted from trading based on the size of their premises. We need to offer a level of service which exists anywhere else in the world — you expect to shop seven days a week. We’ve reached a point in retail where we need Bermuda to be competitive and relevant in today’s retail industry.”

Mr. Slaughter said opening days and hours are a primary driver of satisfaction for customers. By doing that it that will lead to increased sales activity, which is something that Bermuda needs.