The fight of small businesses to close sooner: “We will be happier and healthier” | Economy | EUROtoday

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A woman in a store in Barcelona, ​​in an archive image.
A lady in a retailer in Barcelona, ​​in an archive picture.Gianluca Battista

There is a typical scenario by which many small retailers can discover themselves: after the same old cut up day (opening at ten within the morning, closing at two for lunch, and reopening from 4 to eight for the afternoon shift) , and after having spent just a few hours with out a lot exercise, 5 minutes from closing the basic buyer arrives wanting to purchase. What if the shop closed at 9 at evening? “Well, he would come at five to nine,” says Rosabel Prench, proprietor of a clothes retailer in Lleida. She is 64 years previous, and her complete skilled life has revolved round commerce. “I remember that when I was little, my parents also had a store, and it was open at all hours, including on Sundays. It took a lot to establish schedules and save time, but now it seems that we are making a regression,” she factors out. The rise of digital commerce has led massive retail manufacturers to strain the administration to liberalize hours and be ready to compete, whereas small businesses undergo the pressure of having to work so many hours with out having the ability to rent extra employees. This Wednesday, in Lleida, they rehearsed what their life would be like with a time reform: dozens of shops have closed an hour sooner than regular, at seven within the afternoon, whereas others remained open and view the proposal with skepticism.

The Time Reform Day, which this 12 months celebrates its seventh version, is an experiment that Lleida retailers began in 2016 to elevate consciousness within the sector and clients about the advantages of advancing closing time and compacting schedules. What ought to be finished then with the shopper who rushes the schedule and comes to purchase 5 minutes earlier than closing? “Awareness and pedagogy,” says Prench, spokesperson for the Slowshop Lleida platform. This affiliation established the day, with the help of the small and medium-sized enterprise affiliation Pimec, and the Lleida City Council, and has goals that transcend advancing the closing one hour. “We want a change in the schedule model, in society as a whole and in all jobs. To begin with, we should not change to daylight saving time, because it even delays everything further. If we adapt the schedules to a more European model, they would be healthier, more productive and more conciliatory,” he factors out.

The platform has made the day coincide with the Time Use Week convention, which is being held in Barcelona lately. Prench remembers what some research have already identified: “Leaving work late means having dinner later and going to sleep either later or while digesting. This leads to health and productivity problems, more work accidents, and also less academic performance among students.” In the case of commerce, he’s clear: “Since the pandemic, individuals not buy groceries so late, and we notice that it isn’t essential to be open for thus many hours. By opening extra hours, you do not promote extra, quite the opposite, you employ extra electrical energy, you burn out… and alternatively, if we compact schedules we will be happier and more healthy,” he explains.

In the main shopping streets of Lleida, dozens of businesses have joined the event and at seven they have lowered their blinds. But for every closed store there were three or four that were still open and, despite the call, some merchants have been weighed down more by habit, resignation or skepticism. “Do we really want to be European? I get the idea, let’s say we only work nine to five. Who will come at this time to buy, when here in summer it is 45 degrees? I see it as a very nice slogan, but impossible to do. I have a better idea: stop working directly,” says a store owner, who prefers to remain anonymous. The street is still lively at eight in the afternoon, but not many people enter the shops that remain open. Lola Itxaso is at the door of the clothing store where she works, open but empty, and a few meters from the party organized by the Slowshop association. “These schedules are shit, because I’m 60 years old and I don’t have much left, but all the girls who are 30 years old and have children, they don’t even see them. If we close at nine at night! If I were them, I wouldn’t work on this.”

Among those that have adhered to the early closure there are also some from large corporations, such as Zara. But at the same time, these large distribution brands are the ones that pressure the administrations to liberalize schedules, be able to work on holidays and thus face the competition exerted by electronic commerce. The large supermarkets, through the National Association of Large Distribution Companies (Anged), have already conveyed to the Government their displeasure regarding the draft Trade Law that is being debated, and which maintains the obligation to close on Sundays and holidays except in exceptions. “In Madrid there is even less regulation, but this only benefits large operators, who can afford to have shifts. That is why it is more meaningful than ever to demand a time reform, since it is about having friendly schedules that are compatible with family life and leisure,” says Manel Llaràs, president of Pimec Comerç in Lleida. He also remembers the general difficulties in hiring qualified personnel: “They don’t see good working conditions, and without good hours, the generational change in commerce will cost more.” Llaràs is also a merchant – he has a bread oven with space for tasting – and highlights the good response from customers: “Everyone understands this proposal, it is not about working less, but about compacting the hours. But the rationalization of schedules has to be global, throughout society.”

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