According to a recent survey, families with children and people living in big cities feel that the deregulation of store opening hours has made it easier to arrange their everyday life. Businesses operating in trade, on the other hand, feel that deregulation has increased competition. The law is now equal to all. The freedom to decide its own opening hours seems to affect the satisfaction of companies with the new situation.

Excess regulation of Finnish retail trade was reduced at the beginning of this year with the deregulation of opening hours. OECD, among others, has given several notices to Finland about the restrictive effect the regulation of trade has on competition. The goal to increase competition has now come true, says a survey of Finnish Commerce Federation*. A bit more than 80 per cent of daily consumer goods stores (incl. department stores and kiosks) and almost half of specialty goods stores feel that competition has become tighter specifically due to the deregulated opening hours.

The tighter competition naturally does not make all commerce companies happy especially as small daily consumer goods stores and kiosks are losing sales. As a result, 56 per cent of daily consumer goods stores feel that the deregulated opening hours are worse than the previous regulation. When using weighting based on the number of employees of the companies in favour of and opposed to the deregulated opening hours, the picture is reversed. Daily consumer goods stores which are in favour of deregulated opening hours provide jobs for 94 per cent of all employees in the branch.

“The largest employers of daily consumer goods trade and department store trade seem to be in favour of the deregulation. But not even the smallest companies are uniformly against it, as a bit more than one quarter of daily consumer goods stores with less than 20 employees find the current deregulation better than the previous legislation”, says Jaana Kurjenoja, Chief Economist, Finnish Commerce Federation.

In specialty goods trade, also the location and the possible new competition with household goods offered by large supermarkets and department stores have an effect on the position in addition to the size of the company. More than half of specialty goods stores either prefer the deregulated opening hours over the previous regulation or do not have a stand on the matter. 45 per cent of specialty goods stores do not like the deregulation.

Freedom to decide for yourself determines satisfaction

Regarding the views of large and small companies alike, both in specialty goods trade and in daily consumer goods trade, the degree of freedom to decide on the opening hours had a large effect on the position.

“The majority of stores which like the deregulated opening hours are free to decide their opening hours, or at least have good opportunities to negotiate them. Many stores which are against the current deregulation are, in fact, in favour of the deregulation as such if they were allowed to close their stores for the hours when business is unprofitable”, Kurjenoja says.

The deregulation also seems to have increased working hours. The survey reveals that 46 percent of retail businesses have increased the number of employees or their working hours specifically because of the deregulated opening hours. The working hours of part-time employees have been increased the most. The largest employers in particular have also increased the number of full-time and part-time employees. Approximately one third of companies has not implemented any changes, while 16 per cent have reduced the number of employees or working hours.

Consumers like the new opening hours

The majority of consumers like the deregulated opening hours regardless of whether or not they have utilised them. Three consumers out of five have visited stores during the new opening hours. The opening hours on Saturday nights or Sundays have been utilised the most. Of those shopping on Saturday nights in northern and eastern Finland, 70 per cent say that they have increased the number of shopping visits on Saturday nights.

Those doing shopping at the weekends seem to be the most satisfied with the deregulated opening hours. Families with children and those living in big cities especially value the increased shopping opportunities at the weekends. Women under 40 are the most frequent Sunday shoppers, whereas men under 40 show the biggest increase in the number of shop visits on Sundays compared to last year.

“Consumers have started to also visit specialty goods stores and department stores on Saturday evenings and Sundays in the Helsinki Region. This trend is likely to become even stronger and spread to other big cities as well”, Kurjenoja believes. 

* The survey consists of a member survey of Finnish Commerce Federation, the Finnish Grocery Trade Association and the Union for Fashion Trade with 402 respondents in the retail business, a sample based consumer survey implemented by TNS Gallup with 2 004 Finns aged at least 15, living in mainland Finland, and the customer feedback data collected by Feedbackly Oy from 1,877 customers. 

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Further information:

Jaana Kurjenoja, Chief Economist, Finnish Commerce Federation, tel. +358 (0)40 820 5378, jaana.kurjenoja@kauppa.fi

The Finnish Commerce Federation represents commerce – the largest sector of economic life. Commerce employs around 300,000 people in Finland. The Federation has around 7,000 member companies and represents both retail and wholesale commerce in industry policy and labour market lobbying. www.kauppa.fi