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Holiday first - shops open through Christmas

For the first time, shops in Finland can keep their doors open over the Christmas holiday. Some retail markets have already announced plans to stay open in order to test demand for shopping on Christmas and Boxing Day.

Etualalla joulumainos isossa ruokamarketissa
Image: Juha-Petri Koponen / Yle

Among the retailers testing the holiday market are some of the outlets of the S-Group's Hämeenmaa Cooperative which will keep its Prisma supermarkets open in Lahti, Hämeenlinna, Riihimäki and Forssa.

"They don't have to keep them open for me," says Riihimäki resident Merja Helén. "I try to get all my shopping done before Christmas. Maybe it will be good for the shopkeepers that people show up and buy. It's a matter of taste. For some people shopping is a way to spend their holidays."

In contrast, Mervi Pitkänen-Valkama, who lives in Hyvinkää, is ready to take advantage of the opportunity.

"I think it is quite a good idea because people have different shopping needs. Some need to shop even during the holidays. I think this is how it should be," Pitkänen-Valkama told Yle.

Traditionally, the high point of the holiday celebrations for the Finns is Christmas Eve, when Santa visits and gifts are exchanged. Christmas Day tends to be quite time spent with family.

Volunteering to work

According to Hämeenmaa Cooperative ‎Division Director Lari Rusila, most of the personnel who will be working over the holidays are either regular staff members who have volunteered or seasonal employees.

Ihmisiä ison ruokakaupan kassoilla
Image: Tiina Kokko / Yle

One of these volunteers is Aleksi Pelkonen, a cashier at the Prisma market in Riihimäki who intends to work every day over the Christmas holidays

"There's a little bit of a bonus, and otherwise it's just fine to work," he explains.

Demand decides

The S-Group markets in the Häme region are the first within the chain to have announced Christmas opening hours. It is expected that opening hours by retailers in general will vary on Christmas Eve and that most will be closed on Christmas Day.  Most shops that are normally open on Sundays are also likely to be open on Boxing Day, the 26th.

Ilkka Alarotu, who is Senior Vice President for the S-Group's retail business, notes that the final decision about the future of Christmas opening hours will determined by customer demand. However, he's confident that business will be good at least during the shopping season leading up to the holiday.

"Sales have been exceptionally good this year and I believe that there will be strong growth for Christmas, too. And, if it snows in December, that always has a positive impact on sales of both winter sports equipment and clothing."

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