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Sunday Opening (resize)
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Carlos Periera - Brazilian
As a consumer, I'd prefer stores to be open on Sunday. In Brazil, stores don't close in the middle of the day so workers have more time to shop.
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Lluis Laboria - Catalan
Saturdays and Sundays are sacred for me. I would never work them, except for the occasional emergency. That's just my case though. It's relative. If someone wants to open on Sunday, I think they should be allowed to.
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Natasha Young - UK
Shopping is like a national sport in England at the weekend so I found it mind-boggling when I first arrived that places were shut then. I'm not a great fan of trailing round the shops but I like things to be open. Sunday opening? I%u2019m all for it.
Current law means that most shops in Spain can only trade for a maximum of 72 hours per week, with the chance to open on just eight Sundays every year. Exceptions are made for convenience stores and shops which are considered to be in tourist areas or catering purely for tourists - hence the opportunity to shop any day of the week in Port Vell’s Maremàgnum shopping centre and the enormous L’Anec Blau in Castelldefels. The idea of extending these opening hours in Catalunya is nothing new, having been proposed many times in the past. But now traders from around the Ramblas, Eixample and Gràcia are campaigning again to get the law changed to let shops open on Sundays, in return for closing on a weekday instead. Turismo Barcelona have stated that they would support such a change, and l’Òmnibus Municipal recently carried out a survey which showed that public opinion is growing more and more positive towards Sunday opening with 34.9 percent of people in favour, the highest support recorded yet, with young people providing the strongest support. However for the moment the opposition are still winning out with 38.9 percent of people against a change in the law.
Teresa Polinyà and Fernando Saz feel misunderstood. Owners of two of the longest-established shops on Gràcia’s Carrer Verdi, they jointly run a campaign called DDT - Diumenges Desitgem Treballar (We want to work on Sundays). They say their efforts to promote Sunday opening have seen them reported to inspectors and maligned in the press, but insist that what they actually propose is far more reasonable than most opponents realise.
Polinyà, who sells bright, quirky accessories from her jewellery shop, Freya, says, “DDT has never been about demanding unrestricted Sunday opening for all shops. We just want small businesses to have the freedom to choose when they open.” She points out that shops like hers have no employees who might be forced into losing their day off, and that she herself wouldn’t reach the 72-hour limit on opening hours, even if she were to open for a few hours on Sundays.
“All we want is to be able to work on a Sunday afternoon, when the street is full of people going to the cinema,” said Saz, whose shop El Canillita sells ethnic clothing. “Sunday opening should depend on the area of the city and the kind of passing trade each area has on a particular day of the week. A general rule such as the current law just doesn’t take this into account,” he insisted.
“Who are we hurting by opening on a Sunday?” added Polinyà. “We’re just responding to demand, and all we really want is the power to decide when to work in our own businesses.”
Mexican Jorge Portillo and French-American Laure Griveau have lived in Barcelona for five years, and have been running their natural cosmetics business Adonia together for over three years. The shop moved to its Carrer Balmes location around 18 months ago, and is matched by a popular online store.
Both Griveau and Portillo acknowledge that if the law were to change, they’d feel under pressure to keep up with competitors by offering Sunday opening. However, neither of them are convinced that opening Sundays would be the right choice for their business.
“The main problem is that obviously we need time off, as we already open 6 days a week,” explained Portillo. “We’d also have to bear in mind the increased overheads from keeping the shop open an extra day. But even if we closed another day during the week to make up for it, the cost of paying overtime rates for someone to work on Sunday means it really wouldn’t be worth it.”
Griveau doubts whether anyone would even be around to buy from Adonia on a Sunday, due to their Eixample location. “We have lots of loyal customers, but where we are it’s just full of offices, so people don’t really pass by at the weekend. We open on Saturdays, but Monday is usually a much busier day for us,” she said. Portillo points out that things might be different in areas like Portal de l’Àngel or in Gràcia, where the couple live and where at weekends the streets are packed with cinema-goers and Sunday strollers.
As president of Barnavasi, the local business association of Sant Gervasi, and vice president of the Fundació Barcelona Comerç, Salvador Albuixech speaks on behalf of over 10,000 businesses in the most important commercial districts of Barcelona. He says that the Fundació, which represents 17 local business associations from all over the city, must stand against plans to extend opening hours.
“Opening on Sundays wouldn’t solve anything, because the needs which the proposed Sunday opening plans claim to address are completely exaggerated,” asserted Albuixech. “The only people who might miss out on shopping are tourists who arrive on Saturday night and leave on Monday morning. And even they still have Maremàgnum.”
He says that opening longer hours would mean higher costs for shops, in return for no meaningful increase in revenue. “In the past, when some small shops were allowed to open on Sundays, they tried it but no one came. Even now, 60 percent of the businesses we represent close on Saturday afternoons because it’s not worth their while to open then, let alone on Sundays.”
“There’s huge pressure from large multinationals, who can afford to enter into a war for market share by opening on Sundays,” he told Metropolitan. “The small business owners represented by the Fundació would have no choice but to open too if they wanted to keep up with shopping centres and chain stores.”
Luis Azorin is spokesman for the Día sin Compras (Day Without Shopping) campaign of the Comisión de Consumo de Ecologistas en Acción. He says that his group are opposed to Sunday opening, for various reasons. “Firstly, any extension of opening hours puts strain on small businesses, leading to the closure of traditional neighbourhood stores and more market share for supermarkets and large chains. This results in job losses, as well as the social problems caused by a greater polarisation of wealth.”
Azorin quotes figures from Veterinarios Sin Fronteras, who claim that 55 percent of food distribution in Spain is controlled by just 5 chains: Carrefour, Mercadona, Eroski, Auchan and el Corte Inglés. Their power means they can dictate to food suppliers, driving down the prices paid to farmers and producers. Shops like Corte Inglés are also able to gain extra revenue from Sunday opening by charging each concession store an extra day’s rent every week. Ecologistas en Acción compare this style of business with “an estate agency”.
Finally, the Día sin Compras campaigners point out that having shops open on Sundays isn’t really a question of convenience, but just of habit. “By opening on Sundays, all we end up doing is creating more and more consumerist habits. Which are only emphasized by the images we see every day on television and in adverts.”
Twenty-year-old Vanesa Gracia is studying to become a primary school teacher. She says that going shopping can take up a lot of her time, especially if she goes with friends. “When I know what I want, I prefer to go alone to buy it, because it’s much easier when I don’t have to keep waiting for people. But I do quite often go shopping with friends, and we spend hours looking at clothes and trying stuff on.”
Vanesa says that being able to go shopping on Sundays would be more convenient, giving her the chance to buy important things straight away. “Sundays are also a nice, quiet day before the week of classes starts. Sunday afternoons would be a perfect time to go shopping, because that’s when nobody can really be bothered to study, and there`s nothing much to do. If you leave the house, there’s nowhere to go because everything is closed.”
Gracia agrees that it’s mainly young people who would support a change in the law. “I think of shops opened on Sundays, it would be mostly students and other young people who would go shopping then. The shops would be quieter and it would be more relaxing.”
Freya, Verdi 17 and El Canillita, Verdi 27
Diumenges Desitgem Treballar, http://ddtsi.wordpress.com
Adonia, Balmes 85 www.adonianatur.com
Fundació Barcelona Comerç, www.eixosbcn.net
Día sin Compras, www.ecologistasenaccion.org