Why Are Shops Closed When People Are Free? …and Contest Winners!

Had an interesting conversation last night about a peculiarity of retail business in general. Given that we live in a technologically advanced world where change and innovation is the name of the game, we seem to have a number of traditions that fly in the face of capitalism and common sense. One good example is the nature of business hours for retail stores.

Many years ago, it wasn’t uncommon for families to have one income earner and one spouse stay at home. This made it worthwhile to open most stores during the day since there would be lots of consumers able to come in an make purchases. Today, we have many double income families and the traffic to retail stores is quite low between 9 to 5, Monday to Friday. Yet many businesses close shortly after the “office” day is done. Does this make much sense today? If you were a business owner and the traffic to your store was a fraction of what it is after 5pm and on weekdays, wouldn’t it make more sense to structure your hours that you are open for business to be around the same time that everyone else ISN’T at work?

Any thoughts or ideas on this???

Contest Winners

There were 119 comments left for the contest last week, and needless to say I’ll have tonnes of material to write about as the suggestions were fantastic – thank you to everyone who participated!

Unfortunately, there can only be 7 winners and here they are:

Findependence Day Winners

Marianne O.
Lise
Frank Palermo
Dan G.

No Hype! The Straight Goods on Investing Your Money Winner

Mourad

New Rules of Retirement Winner

Gail Prue

RRSPs Winner

Patricia

Congratulations! I will be contacting the winners via email to arrange delivery of their prize.

Preet Banerjee
Preet Banerjee
...is an independent consultant to the financial services industry and a personal finance commentator. You can learn more about Preet at his personal website and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.
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Showing 4 comments
  • Michael James

    Most of the big box stores seem to be open late. It’s the smaller stores that are more often open just during normal business hours. Maybe it’s a quality of life issue for the owners.

    A long time ago, I was on one of many business trips in Europe (can’t remember which country), and all the restaurants in this small town were closed during normal dinner hours. This seemed crazy to me, but a local thought I was nuts. He said that the restaurants were family run and everyone was home eating dinner — you can’t expect families to disrupt their dinners to run a business.

  • Mark Noble

    I’m not entirely sure if this is the case anymore. Most retailers that are part of a chain or branded franchise seem to cater to their demographic of clientele. This means focusing labour costs on peak hours.

    At least where I live, most of the grocery stores are now actually 24 hours with skeleton crews running them during weekdays and late-night/early morning.

    The exception are publicly-funded businesses and small-family run businesses. These keep traditional hours much to the annoyance of those who need to use them. It’s a good example of how behavioural and sociological factors can get in the way of an efficient business model.

  • Preet

    @ Michael James – interesting point. Here in West Vancouver there is a local plaza that had a “closed due to weather” sign on the door one day a few years ago. But it was a gloriously sunny day and 25 degrees celsius. They had closed to go enjoy the day! As a business owner, I can imagine that if you don’t need to be open and can afford to do that then more power to you (as long as it’s only once in a while).

    @ Mark Noble – Agreed – the mom and pops and public-funded enterprises seem to be behind the curve. I think I’m a victim of context – wonder if I would’ve written the same post if I was in Toronto (which I’m not at the moment). As mentioned above, I’m out west in city which has a very high percentage of small business owners, plus it’s the west coast which seems a bit more laissez-faire in general. The big boys spend lots of money on efficiency – you’re right.

  • fathersez

    You have brought up a great point. Actually I am not very upset about these stores. They just lose their customers and will eventually fade away. I get more upset with all those Government bodies and utility bodies that have to deal with bill payments and the like.

    They follow strictly office hours, and not all of them accept online payments. And we have absolutely no choice but to adapt to their rules.

    Talk about being customer friendly.