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Sunday Shutdown

Holidays can make small businesses more productive

Having just come out of the Christmas holidays, many of us have likely seen firsthand the benefits that time off can have on productivity and motivation.

We’ve also likely witnessed the different approaches various local businesses take to time off. On Christmas Day you could still get your drive-thru latte at Starbucks or your Big Mac from McDonalds – but most small and medium-sized businesses were closed.

In addition to giving their employees time off, many businesses save money; sales on a major holiday likely wouldn’t be worth opening for.

This kind of thinking is part of the rationale for keeping stores closed on Sundays throughout the year. In Canada, Sunday shopping was governed by the Lord’s Day Act until 1985, when the Supreme Court ruled it violated Canadians’ freedom of religion and that the Act prevented Canadians from performing activities that were otherwise legal on Sundays.

Provinces individually still governed how this change was implemented, with Nova Scotia being the last province to ban Sunday shopping year-round. It wasn’t until a 2006 Supreme Court challenge that the law was struck down.

While it’s no longer illegal to open a store on Sunday, that doesn’t necessarily mean it makes good business sense.

After all, people only have a limited amount of disposable income; longer hours won’t magically give them more money to spend. Closing on one predictable day each week eliminates payroll expenses for that day and also gives staff who normally work irregular shifts a predictable day off every week.

For certain businesses – brunch restaurants for example – closing on a regular weekday might make more sense, and social media makes it easier than ever to communicate those hours with customers.

One of the big US businesses who have proven success can come from shuettered Sundays is chicken sandwich giant Chick-Fil-A. In 2016, its average sales per restaurant were $4.4 million. (For comparison, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) was $1.1 million.) They also enjoy one of the lowest employee turnover rates in the business, in the single digits – almost unheard of in fast food. The company cites the Sundays off as one of the major reasons.

Of course, their reason for staying closed was initially a religious one, but it has proven to be good business as well.

For entrepreneurs and solopreneurs, taking a break over the holidays or a day off during the week can seem impossible. But many studies show time away from work can boost brain power and help you come up with that “eureka” solution.

Holidays can also help small businesses run smoother. Delegating responsibilities could help other team members learn new skills and boost overall efficiencies. Most importantly, time away from work can help avoid stress buildup and long-term exhaustion, both of which can lead to mistakes and burnout which have significant costs and repercussions.

As we enter a new year, we may be full of lofty goals and resolutions. Sometimes, taking a break can help achieve them faster.

Ada Slivinski is the Founder & Principal of Jam PR, a boutique agency focused on helping small businesses get big exposure. You can reach her at [email protected]