Although a move to deregulate business hours has seen more businesses serving customers during the holidays, consumers would do well to make sure they know exactly what stores are open and when.
Last-minute shoppers should still be able to do business on the eve of Christmas Eve, 23 December, when stores will maintain normal service hours. However the situation will change from Christmas Eve, 24 December, when Finland traditionally celebrates the holiday.
While many stores will serve customers, they will likely close earlier than usual. Alko, Finland's national monopoly alcohol retailer, will open from 9 am and will close at noon and remain closed until 27 December. There are a few exceptions that customers can check for on the firm's website.
Outlets operated by national mail carrier Posti will operate normally on 23 December, but will close their doors from 24 – 26 December. However customers may still pick up and drop off parcels at other service points, which they can check on the company website.
Planes, trains and automobiles
Airports operator Finavia has warned that airline passenger traffic usually rises at this time of year, especially in Helsinki. The authority is calling on passengers to arrive early at the airport to ensure they have enough time to park, check-in and complete other parts of the departure process. The Finavia website provides several tips for smooth holiday travel.
Meanwhile the outlook for domestic holidaymakers travelling internally for the holiday was generally positive, with road traffic safety officials saying they did not expect heavy traffic on Monday or Tuesday. Officials said that while motorists might encounter snow in the north and sleet or rain in the south, driving conditions should not be particularly challenging.
Helsinki Regional Transport HSL said that the Christmas holiday will usher in changes to public transportation services in the capital region. According to HSL, commuters can expect schedule changes with additional services on some routes.
Services will run normally on 23 December, but timetables will follow a Sunday schedule on 24, 25 and 26 December. Additionally bus services in Kirkkonummi and Sipoo will only run until 4 pm on Christmas Eve and the authority will provide extra services to cemeteries. Commuters would do well to seek additional information and check schedules on the HSL website.
National rail company VR has also announced changes to its Christmas operations, with services slowing down after 6 pm on 24 December. Timetables will observe Sunday schedules from 24 – 26 December.
On Christmas Eve commuter trains will run according to Sunday hours until 4 pm after which the service will be cut back. Similarly on Christmas Day, train services will be less frequent until noon, before following Sunday timetables. Train passengers are being advised to check timetables for up-to-date information.
Inter-city coach company Matkahuolto has advised commuters to check holiday timetables on its website or via the Bussiliput app. When in doubt, passengers can also call the firm's 24-hour service number for timetable information at 0200 400. The calls cost 1.98 euros/minute.