Retail Business Holidays

The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services administers the Retail Business Holidays Act, which strikes a balance between allowing businesses to remain open and providing consumers and employees with a common day of pause.

The act requires retail businesses to close on nine specified days each year. They are:

  • New Year’s Day (Jan. 1)
  • Family Day (the third Monday of February)
  • Good Friday (the Friday before Easter Sunday – typically in March or April)
  • Easter Sunday (typically in March or April)
  • Victoria Day (the last Monday before or on May 24)
  • Canada Day (July 1)
  • Labour Day (first Monday in Sept)
  • Thanksgiving Day (the second Monday in October)
  • Christmas Day (Dec. 25)

The Retail Business Holidays Act, provides limited exceptions for retail outlets that may be open, including stores that sell handicrafts and book or magazine stores that are less than 2,400 square feet with a maximum of three employees, pharmacies under 7,500 square feet, nurseries, flower shops, gardening centres and gas stations. Stores may also remain open in locations established as tourist areas by specific municipal by-laws. Businesses should contact their municipal offices for information.

Minimum fines for opening businesses on prohibited days of retail operation are $500 for the first offence, $2,000 for a second offence and $5,000 for a third or subsequent offence. Retail outlets may be fined up to $50,000 or the total amount of gross sales for the holiday, whichever is greater.

Exceptions to the Retail Business Holidays Act

On January 1, 2007, the Stronger City of Toronto for a Stronger Ontario Act, 2006 came into force and removed the Retail Business Holiday Act’s application to the City of Toronto. This new act gives Toronto city council the authority to pass a by-law establishing closing requirements for retail businesses. Toronto city council passed an interim by-law that essentially replicates the current Retail Business Holiday Act standards while it consults on a permanent by-law.

For more information about the new Family Day, see: