People want Sunday opening

Regarding my letter the other day about businesses opening on Sundays in Lerwick (When is Lerwick going to move into the 21st century? SN, 30/05/2018), I have done a survey of the responses to the letter which are on the Shetland News Facebook page at , and I thought readers might like to know the results.

Just over 100 individual people contributed to the post.

  • 43 people were in favour of Sunday opening
  • 37 people made general comments, neither for nor against
  • 22 people were against Sunday opening

The 37 respondents’ general comments were broadly the following –

  • There is no public transport on Sundays from many areas
  • Thus causing difficulty for people in getting to Lerwick in the first place
  • Giving information on what is already open in Lerwick
  • Offering suggestions to business owners for change
  • Happy with the status quo

The 22 respondents against Sunday opening said broadly the following –

  • It is economically not viable to open on Sundays due to staffing & overheads
  • People need a day of rest on a Sunday / Sunday is a traditional day off
  • There are lots of great places to go/ see in Shetland, not only Lerwick
  • You can go for Sunday teas all over Shetland
  • People off cruise ships don’t spend any money, they only look
  • Dorothy should try opening her own business if she thinks it’s viable

The 43 respondents who are for Sunday opening said broadly the following –

  • Lerwick is a ghost town on Sundays
  • Sunday opening could be seasonal
  • Stalls could be on the pier to welcome cruise ships
  • Lerwick business owners are apathetic
  • Public transport should be improved
  • The SIC should do something to encourage Sunday opening
  • Lerwick should be open on Sundays but needs the support of islanders
  • More people would enjoy shopping and a coffee in Lerwick on Sundays

I think at this stage, if this albeit small scale poll indicates that people want Sunday opening, I think it would be good to hear as many ideas as possible regarding how this can be achieved.

From the discussion on Facebook, it is clear that business owners overwhelmingly say that it is uneconomically viable to open on Sundays.

Someone in the discussion said we ‘need to think outside the box’. I think that’s true and as a start to encourage business owners to open on Sundays, we need to come up with such ideas.

I will start, taking my cue from the many responders –

  • Set up welcome stalls on cruise ship days, thus saving shop overheads
  • Change opening hours to accommodate Sunday opening
  • Open on Sundays from April – September
  • Employ school pupils at weekends
  • Investigate what SIC is willing to/ can do
  • Campaign for public bus service on Sundays
  • Or campaign for Sunday trips to Lerwick by public transport

I think if customers and businesses somehow work on this together, it will be a success over time. For example, The Town Centre Association/ Living Lerwick could organise/ co-ordinate the two groups to work together to develop Sunday opening, and promote it Shetland wide. I would certainly be interested in contributing to something like that.

Dorothy O’Brien