The recent liberalisation of business hours means that consumers in some areas will still be able to go shopping throughout the Christmas holiday. However opening hours will vary depending on the business and location in question.
Kesko Group has announced that its supermarket chain will have varied service hours, depending on location. The same is true of the other market duopolist, the S Group. Shoppers should check online or directly at local outlets for precise hours of business during Christmas.
Market challenger Lidl says that its supermarkets will be open from 7.00 am to 3.00 pm on Christmas Eve, however most stores will remain closed on Christmas Day and will re-open on Boxing Day to serve shoppers during normal business hours.
Those who enjoy a tipple should note that the state monopoly alcohol retailer Alko will remain open for business until 8.00 pm on Friday. Outlets will then remain closed throughout the Christmas weekend, and will re-open next Tuesday.
Posti service points will also serve customers until 8.00 pm on Friday, when they will close until next Tuesday. Mail carriers will deliver mail as usual on Friday and will break for the holiday weekend. However Posti will ensure that newspapers will still be distributed throughout on Saturday, Sunday and Monday during its early morning deliveries.
Extensive changes to transportation schedules
Inter-city bus and courier services company Matkahuolto is reminding commuters that the Christmas holiday will bring many changes to its but schedules, including for the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6) and the New Year. Holiday schedules and changes are listed on its website.
State rail provider VR is also advising rail travellers to consult its website for possible schedule and service changes to commuter and inter-city services in good time. VR says some 100,000 passengers will use its services over the holidays.
Helsinki Regional Transport HSL has pointed out that buses, metro lines and trams will run according to a regular Friday schedule on Friday, meaning that night services will still be available. Regular Saturday schedules will prevail on Christmas Eve, but will end at 4.00 pm. On Christmas Day, services will run according to Sunday schedules, starting at 11.00 am. Commuters should check listings on the HSL website for more accurate timetable information.
For holidaymakers taking matters into their own hands on the road, the Automobile and Touring Club (Autoliitto) has launched Operation Snowflake, a road assistance programme that will run until January 1. The service will help motorists who have run out of fuel, had a flat tyre, experience trouble with locks or with frozen vehicles. The service number is 0200 8080.
Holiday help for children and families
The Mannerheim League for Child Welfare MLL will provide a hotline service for children and teens every day during the holiday weekend, between 2.00 pm and 5.00 pm. Youngsters can call 116 111 anonymously for free confidential counselling services.
Shelters and halfway houses will also remain open throughout the Christmas holiday. Persons who find themselves in need of refuge are advised to call ahead. However the Federation of Mother and Child Homes and Shelters says in emergency cases people should go directly to a shelter without calling. Persons in need can find a list of shelter locations and contact information on the organisation's website.