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Retailers expand opening hours PDF Print E-mail
Written by Tom Philp   

TORONTO - Wal-Mart raised the bar by announcing earlier this week that it would follow a 24/7 operating schedule in most of its Canadian stores. Now other major retailers are getting in line to get their share of extended-hours holiday spending.

Grocery giant Loblaw Cos. Ltd. and Canadian Tire Corp. say some of their retail outlets will remain longer each day until Christmas Eve to accommodate shoppers. Wall-Mart began the tradition in Canada in 2005 after surveys showed that about 41 per cent of its customers preferred the flexibility of extended hours, and has expanded it every year since.

Wal-Mart Canada has announced that starting 01 December, 192 of its 310 Canadian stores will open around the clock for the benefit of holiday shoppers.

All Wal-Mart outlets participating in the program will do so until 9 p.m. Christmas Eve.

"We expect the extra hours will be popular with everyone from families to shift workers," says Jim Thompson, Wal-Mart Canada's senior vice president of operations. "For many people, shopping is simply more convenient when the kids are in bed or you're heading home from an off-hour job or commitment."

Loblaw has "expanded our hours at a number of stores across the country," executive chairman Galen Weston, Jr. said Thursday, explaining that customers have appreciated the extra hours when the company has offered them. However, Weston said Loblaw's had not committed to opening any stores on a 24-hour basis during the holiday season.

Canadian Tire spokeswoman Lisa Gibson said the retailer has no plans to match Wal-Mart's move to 24-hour a day operations, but the company will offer "some extended hours as we head into Christmas."

Gibson said Canadian Tire stores are independently owned and operated, allowing dealer the flexibility to set hours according to local demand and legal constraints (by-laws dealing with hours of operation).

Canadian Tire customers can already shop around-the-clock online at www.canadiantire.ca.

A complete list of Wal-mart stores that will be open for 24 hours will be accessible online 28 November at www.wal-mart.ca/24hourstores.

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