Busy GTA shoppers now have more time to get their retail fix.
Several Toronto-area shopping centres have recently extended their hours of operation, particularly on weekends, allowing shoppers to keep browsing and buying from their favourite stores well into the evenings.
And on Sundays – a day when laws used to prohibit retailers from opening at all – the Eaton Centre is now open a full nine hours, from 10 am to 7 pm, while Fairview and Sherway are open from 11 am to 7 pm and 11 am to 6 pm, respectively.
I can still recall when most stores were open a standard five hours on Sundays – noon to 5 pm.
These malls, all owned by The Cadillac Fairview Corp. Ltd., are likely changing their hours in an effort to compete with the growing popularity of e-commerce. Since customers can now do much of their shopping from the comfort of their home or office – anytime that’s convenient for them – they’ve become accustomed to service that caters to their schedule, and not the other way around.
In order to remain relevant in this rapidly changing environment, bricks and mortar retailers must take steps to meet customers’ rapidly evolving expectations, such as staying open longer.
As a former retail worker, however, I feel for the sales associates, store managers and other staff members who are required to work these new hours.
Although some may appreciate the bigger paycheques that come with extra hours on the clock, the job is one that can already be very tiring, involving seemingly endless hours on your feet. Tacking a couple extra hours onto the end of a shift may not seem like a big deal, but after several hours in heels, the minutes tend to crawl by at a snail’s pace.
And, even though 9 pm may seem like a reasonable time for a store to close its doors, few retail staff members get to leave at that time. Cleaning the store, counting the till and getting things ready for the next day can easily take an hour, and on evenings when new merchandise needs to go out on the floor, workers can be stuck at a store until the early hours of the morning.
After a long week of work, that’s hardly an ideal way to spend a Saturday night.
Since it’s standard for retailers to temporarily extend their hours during the busy Christmas season, it’s possible that these workers could face even longer hours come November and December.
After that, it will be interesting to see whether these retail hubs stick with their new extended hours of operation, or revert to their old ones. If the hours pay off in the form of more sales, shop keepers will likely need to get used to their new schedules.