Mixed responses to new shopping hours

To the glee of the majority of Danes, from the beginning of October shops in Denmark can basically remain open at will. But there is a dark side, experts say

Beginning October 1, all shops in Denmark will have the opportunity to stay open for as long as they like every day, including Sundays.

A new closing hour law (lukkeloven) will come into effect on that date, and according to a survey conducted by Megafon for Politiken newspaper and TV2 News, 57 percent of Danes are happy that the old law, dating from 1946, will be replaced.

Nearly half of the people interviewed were ready to shop more on Sundays and every fourth person said they would shop more after 8pm, which doesn’t surprise Finn Lund Andersen, a spokesperson for supermarket giant Dansk Supermarked.

“Our experiences indicate that customers want to be able to shop on Sundays. Family patterns have changed since the closing law was initiated just after the Second World War,” Andersen told Politiken. “There are far more family types than they typical mom, dad, and two kids, so there is a need for new shopping options.”

The only limitations in place for shops with a turnover exceeding 32.2 million kroner a year are holidays, Constitution Day (Grundlovsdag), Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. All those days, stores must shut at 3pm.

Shops with a turnover of less than 32.2 million kroner annually are exempt from these limitations.

But the new law has raised some concerns as well. John Wagner, the CEO of shopkeeper interest group De Samvirkende Købmænd (DSK), said that the smaller grocers will end up losing out to the larger shops, which will now remain open longer, and in the end it will be the customers that foot the bill.

“The longer a shop remains open, the greater the expenses, and these can only be covered through price hikes. So the customers will have to pay for the privilege of better access to the stores,” Wagner told Berlingske newspaper. “We will also see a greater number of unskilled workers filling the extra hours, which will result in poorer service.”

Jørgen Møller, a rural-town researcher and town planner at Aalborg University, is pessimistic about what the new law will mean for small neighbourhood shops and local communities.

“There will be far less rural shops and less life in the country by 2020. The future will present hardcore competition and small shops can’t compete in price and parking. They won’t survive on small talk,” Møller told Nordvestnyt newspaper.

Click here for an overview of the law change (in Danish)

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