Should Germany close all supermarkets at 8pm to save energy?

Should Germany close all supermarkets at 8pm to save energy?

The owner of the supermarket chain Tegut has suggested shop opening times should be limited across Germany to save energy. But what would the change mean for the country's working population and retail staff?

Tegut boss calls on German federal states to close supermarkets early

Since the middle of summer Germans have been trying out new ways to save energy amid the current crisis. Now, supermarket boss Thomas Gutberlet has suggested that in order to save energy every German federal state should follow the custom, often observed in Bavaria and Saarland, of closing supermarkets at 8pm each evening.

Gutberlet has already taken steps to implement energy-saving measures in his own supermarket chain. Tegut has reduced the opening hours of service counters, cutting back on electricity costs and staff working hours. But Gutberlet sees the already limited supermarket opening times in Bavaria and Saarland as setting a good example, as long as energy remains scarce.

Four weeks ago he wrote to each federal state’s government to recommend the change be implemented nationwide. So far he has not had a response.

Could limiting business hours be the answer to supermarket staff shortages?

Gutberlet claims that shorter business hours could remedy other problems facing retail right now: namely making supermarket jobs more attractive to prospective employees. At the moment, there is a shortage of young people who are willing to spend their evening hours working in supermarkets or other retail jobs.

Dieter Hieber, the owner of 16 independent Edeka stores, is inclined to agree with Gutberlet’s proposal. On Wednesdays, Hieber already closes his shops at noon, a decision he told Süddeutsche Zeitung is for the benefit of his staff: “At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic retail staff were hailed as heroes," he said. "Now we get grief from customers when food prices rise or stock doesn’t arrive. The mood is tense."

Critics of the proposal are worried what the change could mean for the working population, who are likely unable to do their shopping during the day and might struggle with limited opening hours. 

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan



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