Business groups are giving a thumbs-down to the idea of banning plastic bags in Montreal.

Those who spoke out at a public consultation Wednesday raised concern an outright ban on plastic bags in the city could drive shoppers away.

"We think that maybe some incentives would be better," said Martine Hébert, vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. "Why not have a big campaign to encourage consumers to use more reusable bags?"

Hébert said a ban would disproportionately hurt small businesses, where shoppers are more inclined to make spontaneous purchases and not have reusable bags with them.

Nathalie St-Pierre, the Quebec spokeswoman for the Canadian Retail Council, said banning plastic bags in Montreal might drive shoppers to look elsewhere.

St-Pierre said the Canadian Retail Council thinks reducing plastic bag use is a good idea, but against an outright ban.

"If the ban as proposed is implemented...consumers could decide to shop somewhere else," she said, adding that the ban might be bad for stores that cater to tourists who might not have reusable bags with them.

The consultations will continue this month, with recommendations expected later this year.

Coderre, who earlier came out in favour of the ban, said he won't make a final decision until he's heard from all sides.