Mandatory retail business closures on holidays

The Retail Business Holidays Act says retail businesses in Ontario must be closed on the following nine holidays each year.

  1. New Year’s Day (January 1)
  2. Family Day (the third Monday of February)
  3. Good Friday (the Friday before Easter Sunday – typically in March or April)
  4. Easter Sunday (typically in March or April)
  5. Victoria Day (the last Monday before or on May 24)
  6. Canada Day (July 1 – if July 1 is a Sunday, the mandatory closure moves to the following Monday)
  7. Labour Day (the first Monday in September)
  8. Thanksgiving Day (the second Monday in October)
  9. Christmas Day (December 25)

Exceptions – municipalities

These mandatory closures do not apply to municipalities if they have passed a by-law stating the act does not apply and have also passed a by-law requiring certain retail businesses to be closed on a holiday. Please check with your municipality to verify whether it has its own holiday closing requirements for retail businesses.

Under section 1.1 of the act, these mandatory closures do not apply to the City of Toronto.

Exceptions – business types

For the rest of the province, the act allows for some limited exceptions to the holiday closures, including some:

  • shops under 2,400 square feet and with three or fewer employees where the only goods available for sale on the holiday are in one or more of the following categories:
    • tobacco or articles required for the use of tobacco
    • antiques
    • handicrafts
    • books
  • nurseries
  • flower shops
  • gardening centres
  • gas stations
  • tourist areas, as specified in municipal by-laws

See section 3 of the act for the full list of exceptions and their parameters.


The local municipality enforces the act. Minimum fines for retailers who open businesses on prohibited days are:

  • $500 for the first offence
  • $2,000 for a second offence
  • $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.