Shopkeepers outside the center of Leiden protested against a city plan to allow shops in all of Leiden to open their stores to customers on Sundays. Until now this was only allowed in the city center.
According to Mr. J. Kramp en Mrs. Y. Kramp-Nieuwenburg, owners of the Etos on Kooiplein, a residential shopping area, opening shops outside the singel (the moat that circles around the city center) on Sundays is totally unnecessary. “We are already open six whole days a week, plus Thursday evening, which totals at 71 hours per week,” the Kramps said. “Do we need to be open an extra 6 hours on Sunday?”
The reason for the city council’s decision, which would go into effect on March 1st, was that some grocery stores outside the singel complained about unfair competition from supermarkets in the city center that were allowed to be open on Sunday. To expand this area to outside the singel, the city council needs to officially mark the entire city of Leiden as a ‘tourist area’.
The owners of the Kooiplien Etos find it ridiculous that their residential neighborhood shopping area will be designated a ‘tourist area’. “At shopping center Kooiplein we are completely dependent on local residents,” they wrote to the city mayor. “As a test we opened our pharmacy on Sundays from mid-November to the end of December 2005 from noon to 4pm, and there was no increase in customers and our sales remained the same. In fact, Monday mornings were more quiet, just as we expected. We did have more costs for being open for more hours.”
Kramp thinks that if the Albert Heijn grocery store on Kooiplein opens its doors on Sundays, then his pharmacy next door cannot stay closed. “But opening stores on 52 Sundays per year damages the ‘Sunday-rest’ and it is bad for the small shopkeepers,” Kramp added. “Does the public realize what is at stake here?”
On a personal note, I think it’s funny to read about this and compare it to the 24-hour U.S. economy, where it’s rather normal for a Walgreens pharmacy store to be open 24 hours per day and 7 days per week. It seems to me that we may be several decades behind on the United States here in the Netherlands, but will there ever be 24/7 Etos stores here? I don’t think so, with all the rules and regulations. There are probably no large grocery stores in this country for that reason either. I sure think it’s convenient that Albert Heijn and Etos are open a few hours on Sunday, though. 😉