The Employers’ and Industrialists’ Federation (OEV) on Tuesday railed against suggestions of a potential reduction in shop opening hours.

“Opening hours are not just for shop owners. They concern consumers, who enthusiastically embraced the regulations introduced by the late [Labour Minister] Zeta Emilianidou at the height of the economic crisis in 2013.”

They added that as a result of the extended opening hours introduced in 2013, people “in the thousands” found full-time or part-time employment in the retail trade to cover the extended hours.

Additionally, they said the extended opening hours have increased “the country’s credibility” and attracted “quality investment into the retail sector”.

They criticised a “group of business owners in the sector” which has opposed any attempt to expand the operating framework for three decades.

Some fear that longer opening hours will lead to small businesses being forced to close due to their inability to compete with those which can naturally hire more staff, but OEV said that on the contrary, Cyprus has “the largest number of shops in proportion to population in the whole of Europe”.