As Sunday Ban Dawns, Here's How Polish Retailers Are Responding
Poland’s ban on Sunday trading has arrived and the country’s biggest retailers and mall operators say they are going to watch how consumer patterns change as they develop their response to the new laws.
The regulations, aimed at improving the lives of supermarket and shopping centre workers, is in place as of Thursday. It allows retailers to open on just the first and last Sunday of each month, before eventually extending to cover all Sundays.
While stores will fall silent for the first time on March 11, a sterner test awaits in April, when the timing of Easter means that doors must be closed on four consecutive Sundays.
Poland’s buoyant consumer confidence has prompted suggestions that some retailers will try to exploit Sunday exemptions for bakeries, outlets serving railway passengers and people visiting cemeteries. Some have considered opening their stores only as showrooms, enticing customers to browse before buying later online, displeasing the government, which wants staff to have the day off.
Here are the views of retailers and mall operators, as they contemplate the dramatic change to weekend trading. The companies responded through spokesmen to questions from Bloomberg.
Jeronimo Martins, owner of the country’s biggest food store network Biedronka, is still assessing which of its more than 2,800 stores to keep open longer on Saturday evenings to cope with increased demand. The retailer is increasing staffing on Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays, anticipating busier stores and may add teams to ensure shelves are replenished in the wake of the potential Saturday rush.
LPP, Poland’s biggest fashion retailer, with almost 1,000 stores, won’t be opening any of them as showrooms with closed cash registers. The retailer will instead analyse the impact of the ban on sales and sees April as a key period, because trading will be curtailed on four weekends just as its spring-summer collection hits stores. LPP intends to expand online sales.
CCC, the country’s biggest footwear retailer, said it expects customers to switch their purchases to other days and is adjusting staffing in line with that forecast. The company foresees its established e-commerce presence through its Eobuwie.pl operation, plus plans to open a CCC online store in the second quarter, as ways of wooing shoppers.
GTC, the real estate developer, will keep its Warsaw and Czestochowa malls open on all Sundays, as it expects cinemas, restaurants and children playgrounds not affected by the ban to offset the darkened retail outlets. The biggest restaurant chains in its malls have committed to staying open every Sunday.
Ikea said it will close its furniture stores, collection points and call centres on affected Sundays, while continuing to push other sales channels, including the ordering of products online.
AmRest Holdings said it’s still analysing which of its almost 500 restaurants should be open during non-trading Sundays. The operator of the Pizza Hut, KFC and Starbucks chains will keep outlets in the largest cities and busiest hot spots open and is awaiting the decision of smaller mall owners on what they will do with their properties on days the ban is in place. A final decision will be taken after the recommendation of each restaurant manager on a case-by-case basis.
Not A Deep Impact
Eurocash, the wholesaler and retailer that owns the Delikatesy Centrum chain, expects the ban to not have a deep impact on its operations, as distribution centres are allowed to operate. The industry is divided over the new regulations, according to Eurocash, which says half the shop owners that are its clients are against ban, and the rest in favour. It expects that while smaller, owner-run shops will be allowed to operate, only some will opt to do so.
Unibail-Rodamco, the owner of five shopping centres in Warsaw, expect consumers to continue visiting its malls for entertainment and food. The company has an obligation to its tenants to keep its facilities in full operation, even if shops have to be closed.