Hardware stores don’t give up on being closed on Sundays. They want to spark a discussion on this issue. Their association asked Quebec to change the law on working hours.
I learned that a letter was sent on Friday by the Quebec Association for Hardware and Building Materials (AQMAT) to two ministers, Eric Girard, finance, and Jean Boulet, at work. Richard Darvaux, president and CEO of AQMAT, identifies that 76% of managers of hardware stores and home improvement centers have given him a mandate to prioritize Sunday’s question.
“Without state intervention, it is clear that we would see a rapid shutdown in a chain,” Mr. Darvaux insists in an interview.
This is not the first time that the association has called for legislative changes. A few other ministers have received similar messages over the past five years to “protect hardware store expertise.” But AQMAT is back to task, because urgency is increasing due to manpower shortage and succession.
The owners told me that finding competent staff to work on Sundays became a real nightmare. However, no less customers come to the store with a list of specific questions to solve their problem or turn their project into reality. exactly the contrary ! Their numbers are increasing, as I wrote earlier this week.
According to AQMAT, the pandemic has changed business and consumption models. Employees have more demands when it comes to working hours and conditions. Residents have revised their priorities. People are more willing to modify their lifestyles so that everyone is happy with it.
Based on the tons of emails I’ve received from readers after a vertical post – although this isn’t a statistically perfect sample – consumers almost unanimously agree to shut down nonessential businesses on Sundays. The quality of life of families is the most common argument. In many European countries, where everything is closed or almost, we put up with it, I have also written several times.
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Concretely, AQMAT wants to persuade Quebec to do two things: force hardware stores to stay closed on Sundays and “protect them by preventing other businesses from selling hardware and building materials.”
He is ambitious. Remember how hard it was last spring when the government allowed Costco, Walmart and Canadian Tire to stay open, while forbidding them from selling clothes, televisions and utensils. All this with the noble goal of doing justice to the fashion, electronics and kitchenware stores that have been forced to close to limit the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19.
In emergencies, retailers have installed stylish screens, often large yellow sticky tapes on their screens. Fortunately, we knew it was temporary. If we go back to a similar system, will tapes be installed every Saturday evening in anticipation of the next day? of course not. We’ll have to find a better idea.
And what fate awaits Quebec hardware stores stuck in Ontario or New Brunswick, for example? Mr. Darfo understands that there must be consistency with the neighbours. It’s not a win. Especially since part of Ontario is stuck in the US, where Walmart welcomes customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, we shouldn’t believe regional differences are impossible, he says, because in some US cities, hardware stores are closed on Sundays.
There is also the issue of the web. Won’t hardware store closings on Sunday encourage consumers to buy from Amazon? It’s a “risk to be taken,” AQMAT judges. A risk to measure, even if we don’t buy 2x4s or bushes. Will roadside online shopping be allowed?
The bets are multiple and no solution will be perfect. Moreover, the status quo is not so.
The repeated efforts of AQMAT have the advantage of getting people to think, while we tend to think that opening businesses on Sundays is a rule of thumb. Furthermore, the Quebec Retail Board is conducting a survey of its members on the issue.
In Europe, Sunday shopping is regularly questioned.
The debate was renewed last spring, when companies in a variety of French departments were allowed to open certain Sundays to sell unsold shares due to confiscation. Unions fear Sunday shopping will be ‘insulted’. Some companies have avoided the idea. “We had family clients who wanted to take advantage of the infrastructure (mini-train, games, excursions) without having to spend,” told France Info, manager of a shopping center in Strasbourg.
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