Shops to Stay Open Longer for World Cup | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 11.04.2006
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Shops to Stay Open Longer for World Cup

While German soccer fans hope the home team will rack up the goals, businesses are counting on longer opening hours to fill their cash registers with euros, but not everyone is convinced it will work.


No need to set the alarm clock, the stores will be open all day

It's easy to forget any number of essentials in the euphoric phase of pre-World Cup packing, but temporary changes in Germany's shop opening hours should make it easier for visitors to pick up whatever they need.

Ten of Germany's 16 states have so far planned to ease the 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. opening restrictions that normally leave anyone who forgets the toothpaste on Saturday evening fighting bad breath all day Sunday.

With a few restrictions, shops will be allowed to set their own hours during the international soccer tournament, which runs from June 9 to July 9.

"The World Cup motto is 'A Time to Make Friends,' and friends should be offered friendly opening times," said Hubertus Pellengahr of the German Retailers Association. "We want to campaign for shopping in Germany so the more than 1 million visitors in Germany for the World Cup come back to go shopping."

Fußball Deutschland gegen Argentinien - Fans

All soccer fans will be able to focus on the game, not when to go shopping

"Gesture to foreign tourists"

Cashiers in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia will wait on shoppers around the clock Monday to Saturday and from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays, with the exception of July 2, when there are no games. Other states have similar guidelines.

Michael Breigraf, head of the Bonn branch of the nationwide Karstadt chain, said he decided to open on Sundays but not keep the department store's doors open longer during the week.

"We see this more as a gesture for the foreign tourists," he said. "It will be great when we can open on Sundays."

But shop owners are hopeful that tourists won't be the only ones opening their wallets during the World Cup.

"During the World Cup people are really distracted," one shopper said. "They're following the games and are happy to be able to go shopping in the evening for the next day."

Kassierin und der Euro

Employees would rather not spend the extra hours at the register

Employees not thrilled

Shop employees who will have to work longer hours, however, see the new rules differently.

"Of course they're not happy about it," Breigraf said. "But employees should -- and need to -- consider that we will be making money, which will secure their jobs."

Organized labor is concerned about worker safety, according to Folkert Küpers of Verdi services union.

"We are expecting serious safety problems for the employees who will often be left alone or with a very limited crew," he said. "We think it is irresponsible when we cannot exclude the possibility of additional problems with hooligans and violent soccer fans."

Sale - reduziert

No one can say if sales and extended hours lead to higher profits

World Cup test for extending hours

As determining permissible opening hours is increasingly being left in state hands, the temporary World Cup plan could serve to test the effects of extended hours, Küpers said, adding that he does not expect the shops to take in larger profits.

"Experience from other large events -- like the Expo in Hanover and the pope's visit to World Youth Day -- clearly shows that the number of extra visitors, let alone how much they buy, cannot be calculated ahead of time," he said. "That shows that the World Cup is only serving as a pretense to try out what otherwise isn't possible."

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