MONTREAL -- After Quebec Premier François Legault said Wednesday his government is considering the idea of a 'circuit-breaker' lockdown, business owners in the retail world immediately pushed back.

A shutdown for part of December and January isn't the answer, they said, at least not as Legault described it on Wednesday -- with all but essential businesses shut.

That system will disadvantage local companies while giving an edge to American retail giants, argued David Bensadoun, the CEO of the Aldo Group, in an interview with CTV News.

The problem, he said, is the idea of leaving open huge stores like Walmart because they happen to sell food alongside many other non-essential consumer items.

"The majority of the big box stores, which the governments seem to be more comfortable with, are owned by Americans, and the majority of the specialty stores are owned by Canadian companies," Bensadoun said.

"So when the government starts picking and choosing between the shopping mall versus the big box Walmart or the big box Costco or the big box Home Depot, you can see that you start running into this issue of picking and choosing who should live and who should die."

Some experts have called for a short-term lockdown as a way to interrupt transmission of the virus more efficiently, while doing less long-term economic damage, than the current semi-lockdown for Montreal and other red-zone areas.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses said half its members are in serious financial trouble and aren't likely to survive a second shutdown similar to the spring's, especially if competitors stay open.

Smaller retailers, particularly in the fashion industry, have also argued that in a small store it's easier to control who comes in, who comes out, and how much distance shoppers keep between them than it is in a warehouse-style store. 

On Wednesday, Legault said his government is asking police to begin handing out bigger and more frequent fines to rule-breaking shoppers and others in order to get the spread of COVID-19 under control and ideally prevent a stricter lockdown.