Cyprus Mail

Extended shop hours proclaimed a success

By Stefanos Evripidou

EXTENDED OPENING hours and Sunday openings has been warmly welcomed by Cypriot consumers, and has helped create employment while injecting money into the banking system and state coffers, said leading retailer Nicos Shacolas yesterday.

In a written statement, Shacolas, whose business group includes Debenhams, Next, Peacocks, IKEA and the Mall of Cyprus, called on the government to renew its decision to temporarily extend opening hours as a means of helping the sluggish economy.

The labour ministry issued a decree on July 9 for shops outside tourist areas to stay open until 10pm on week days and from 9am until 9pm on Sundays.

The decree expires on October 13, while summer opening hours for tourist areas ends on November 30.

Shacolas argued that the government’s decision proved be “very correct and beneficial” to the country. According to the businessman, consumers have embraced it, the retail market has grown stronger, and a large number of unemployed Cypriots, including many students have been employed as a result.

He said the healthy competition on Wednesday afternoons and Sundays has helped maintain low prices on many consumer goods. “This is self-evident,” he said.

“The fact that the measure has helped the economy and retail trade is reinforced by the fact that the Bank of Cyprus management found that in August 2013, for the first time since last March, money inflows were greater than outflows,” he added.

Shacolas argued to really test the merits of the decree, it should be implemented for a whole year through all four seasons, allowing employers to take the necessary measures and hire additional staff on a permanent basis.

At the very least, the government should extend the decree to November 30 since in any case, on December 1, the Christmas timetable comes into effect which allows shops to stay open throughout Cyprus all days of the week for the entire month, he said.

The head of Shacolas Group raised the sensitive issue of rising unemployment to ask what was the point of firing the additional staff hired for Wednesday afternoons and Sundays, just to rehire them a month and a half later.

On a final note, he maintained that on a weekly basis, business on Wednesdays and Sundays gets busier and busier, while the total weekly turnover also increasing.

The new decree has been slammed by small shopkeepers’ union POVEK, which argues that it only caters to big shopping centers and malls, while stifling the turnover of smaller businesses. POVEK intends to challenge the decree legally.



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