Yorkdale Shopping Centre makes appeal to have mall open on statutory holidays

Yorkdale Shopping Centre is making an appeal to the city to make changes so that the mall can remain open on New Year’s Day and other statutory holidays.

“A number of shopping centres all around us are open on statutory holidays. They were able to get the exemption through provincial means,” general manager of Yorkdale Shopping Centre Claire Santamaria said.

“However – within the city of Toronto – there is no framework for Yorkdale Shopping Centre to be apply to be open.”

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Under the Retail Business Holiday Act, retail businesses in Ontario must be closed on statutory holidays, however exemptions have been made for malls like the competitor Eaton Centre, which has been deemed a tourist attraction.

Santamaria said shoppers have come to Yorkdale on statutory holidays expecting the mall to be open.

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“Over the Easter holiday we had 11,000 people that came and expected us to be open,” she said.

“We surveyed our customers and over 3000 respondents — 24 per cent — said they actually came to Yorkdale Shopping Centre on a statutory holiday only to find out we were closed.”

City councillor Michael Thompson, chair of the city’s Economic Development Committee, said he sees the need to have establishments like Yorkdale open.

“I think we need to put forward a more concerted effort in order to address this,” he said.

“The opportunity where families or individuals want to go to a place to shop or meet friends, if we limit them and say only specific areas are allowed to have this option, I think it’s rather discriminatory.”

Thompson added that workers who don’t want to work statutory holidays will not be forced to do so.

“As I understand it, the law does not allow you to force anybody who does not want to work, to work,” he said.

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“If you want to stay home with your family, if you want to have that choice and you’re working in retail, that opportunity is afforded to you.”

Retail expert Doug Stephens agreed with Thompson and Santamaria, adding that a change in retail landscape has made shopping in malls more of an entertainment experience.

“Cities and municipalities are really going to have to revisit these laws,” the founder of Retail Prophet said.

“I think everyone in the industry now agrees that shopping centres are much, much more now about entertainment,  hospitality, food and – yes – many of them are tourist attractions and I think that certainly Yorkdale can make the case that it is the kind of venue that acts as a tourist attraction.”

Yorkdale’s movie theatre and restaurants will be open on New Year’s Day, as well as security and guest services because members of the public are on site.

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