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STELLARTON, N.S. -- Sobeys here opened another five stores in Nova Scotia on Sunday, a few days before the retailer is scheduled to go to court to try to lift the Canadian province's Sunday shopping ban, according to published reports. Three of the five stores are in the Halifax area, while the other two are in Truro and Minas, respectively.
The retailer said it opened the stores to satisfy shopper demand, and noted the previous Sunday openings, which began in June, have been positively received.
Sobeys now has 11 stores open on Sunday in Nova Scotia. Loblaw-owned competitor Atlantic Superstore, which also started offering Sunday hours in June, has six.
Both companies have subdivided their store businesses into discrete businesses to circumvent size limits in the regulations. When Nova Scotia's government tried to close the loophole, Sobeys took the matter to the province's supreme court. Atlantic Superstore has been granted intervener status in the case, which is slated to be heard Aug. 30. Atlantic Superstore said it wouldn't open any additional store on Sunday while the court case is pending.
According to Sobeys spokesman Gerald Weseen, this past weekend was the soonest the retailer could configure the additional stores after provincial authorities said on Aug. 10 that they wouldn't prefer charges against Sobey's for opening the initial six stores on Sunday.
Although Nova Scotia premier Rodney MacDonald has said the province is upholding the results of a 2004 plebiscite in which voters rejected unrestricted Sunday shopping by a narrow margin, he has said another such vote will be held in 2008.