Hypermarkets allowed extended opening hours

By PAULO SILVESTRE [email protected]

Hypermarkets are now allowed to remain open until midnight on Sunday and public holidays, following the introduction of a new law, which according to the Government, will create hundreds of jobs.

However, the new decree-law (Decreto-Lei nº.111/20109) authorising the extension of opening hours for hypermarkets with areas covering more than 2,000 square metres does not rule out the possibility of town halls setting restrictions when duly justified, such as for security reasons, preservation of citizens’ quality of life and in defence of certain trading activities.

A spokesman from Faro Câmara told the Algarve Resident: “We are preparing the regulations which will determine the opening hours of hypermarkets in Faro council. Our position regarding the new decree-law will only be decided after evaluation of this government decision.”

Commenting on the new ruling, social educator Cidália Espiguinha said: “This is good for workers as it will provide extra income and will also allow people to go shopping on Sundays and public holidays.”

Artisan Filipa Santos told the Algarve Resident: “Nothing justifies the opening of hypermarkets on Sunday afternoons as consumers are able to do their shopping at any other week day until late hours anyway.

“Staff working on Sundays until late may earn more money but, psychologically, it will be very tiring for them. On Sundays and bank holidays, hypermarkets are like magnets for Portuguese people, who do not seem to know what to do with their spare time.”

A resident who did not wish to be named said: “We will continue to increase consumerism and to put more Euros in the pockets of the ‘supermarket kings’, who employ more people at minimum wages. All the money that could circulate in the Portuguese retail sector will only circulate in hypermarkets. How can this be productive?”

Another resident who did not wish to be named said: “The problems of small traders will increase. If David wants to beat Goliath, it has to be smarter, more innovative, more attractive and mainly offer services or products that the supermarkets cannot offer but at affordable prices. I think there is no reason that justifies the opening of hypermarkets on Sunday afternoon and on holidays.”

João Rosado, the president of ACRAL, the region’s retailers association, told the Algarve Resident: “The opening of hypermarkets on Sunday afternoons and public holidays will be very bad for smaller businesses. The large-scale supermarkets have a different appeal to the smaller businesses, leading the consumer to prefer these larger retail areas.

“However, this is not common practice in other European countries as Sunday is commonly known as the day of the family,” he added.

João Rosado also stressed that the argument used by the Government that this measure will create further jobs is a false statement as “for each job created in a hypermarket four jobs are lost in small retail businesses”.

October 24 was the first Sunday in which consumers could benefit from the new extended opening hours of hypermarkets and a popular campaign was run by Continente, who offered a 10 per cent discount on all products purchased on the day.

Do you have a view on this story? Please email Editor Inês Lopes at [email protected]