Grocery stores in Finland were allowed to extend their opening hours early this year even on official holidays, and the ongoing experiment of keeping the doors open for longer over Midsummer has been met with cautious praise.
"I believe that this Midsummer shop owners and individual stores will be experimenting with customer behavior. It'll be another year before we know how it went, we have no prior basis for comparison," says Kari Luoto, CEO of the Finnish Grocery Trade Association.
Luoto nonetheless says he believes that customers will abound, because Midsummer sees a spike in all kinds of grocery purchases.
"Midsummer is the third most popular food-related celebration in Finland, after Christmas and Easter," he says. "The weather is a factor; with 25 degrees or more customers might be more at home at their summer cabins, while they may be more likely to go shopping if it's rainy."
Gauging the national spirit
S Group chief Ilkka Alarotu says that customers will be plentiful in shops over Midsummer, but he, too, underlines that shops are gaugin the situation for the first time.
"Time will tell and we will learn how consumers behave during one of the busiest holidays in the country," he says.
Alarotu says that Midsummer Day will probably be when revelers go to refurnish their stores.
"A large number of people are also working over the holidays or do not have cottages to visit, but still need their usual daily groceries," he says.
Good experiences so far
K Supermarket chain head Ari Sääksmäki says that extended hours over other national days of rest have been good for Kesko, on a par with normal Sundays.
Alarotu chimes in.
"At least right now everything points to keeping our opening hours extended," he says. "Some locations may need to stay open longer, while others could close earlier."
"The current view is that we're going forward with late and extended hours more and more, and that spikes in holiday sales will subside as they become normal shopping days," Sääksämki adds.