OPINION

Opening hours

The trade union representatives’ stance on the issue of extending shop opening hours has failed to live up to the demands of modern economic and consumer needs. The unions’ representatives have ruled out any changes to the existing schedule, as they appear stuck in an anachronistic mentality reminiscent of past decades. With overt or covert backing from the ministers of labor and development, they are seeking to defend petty political interests and are putting forward subordinate issues of labor relations in an attempt to avoid the heart of the issue, namely, doing the best service to the consumer. Shopowners are keen to reiterate that «this year’s turnover is 50 percent less than last year» – hyperbole, as most businesses would have gone bankrupt had this been so. At the same time, they do nothing to increase their revenues. They pretend to ignore the fact that both spouses work these days, that many also have a second job in order to make ends meet, and therefore have little time for shopping. Under the current regime of opening hours – whereby most shops are closed on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday afternoons (certain shops are closed all day Saturday) and do no business on Sunday – workers have to rush to purchase basic commodities. This runs contrary to the modern consumer habit which presupposes enough time to select and compare products. What is more, it is also to the detriment of shopowners themselves, especially when they do not sell necessary items. For example, how can someone visit a bookstore to flip through a book if he only has a few minutes at his disposal? Small businessmen have expressed concern that extending shop opening hours will only benefit large shops, as small ones cannot afford to hire extra staff. They clearly fail to understand that the existing schedule of short opening hours is in favor of big department stores. Consumers prefer such stores as they offer a wide range of goods and spare them from having to go to more than one shop. No one will waste time looking for goods in small shops if they are pressed for time. Times have changed. The modern lifestyle cannot remain chained to the interests of the strugglers. The laws of free market competition are inexorable. We shall either adapt to the new environment or we shall be drowned by its developments.