Closed on Monday. This has recently been written on the doors of the Ehrmann furniture stores in the Palatinate, in Baden and in Trier. The reason for this is the increased energy costs, which have a particularly high financial impact in the large shops with thousands of lamps and lights. “We want to reduce our energy consumption by ten percent with the closing day,” says company boss Horst Ehrmann. This should compensate for the extreme rise in energy prices. “So that we can keep our sales prices stable.”

It’s a turning point. Ehrman knows that too. “We hope that we won’t lose any customers.” In the run-up to the start on Monday, the response was “consistently positive”. “A lot of people say they like that we save energy. It is also an advantage for them if they can continue to get their furniture at the price of 2022 in the future,” says the company boss. But it is also clear that “one or the other was briefly annoyed” when he stood in front of closed doors on Monday.

The fact that Mondays are closed now applies consistently to all Möbel Ehrmann locations in Landau, Frankenthal, Trier, Herxheim and in Reilingen, Bruchsal and Rastatt (Baden-Württemberg). “We initially scheduled it until the end of the heating season at the end of April. But we can very well imagine that we will continue to do so,” says Ehrmann, whose company has around 700 employees. “The number of employees remains stable.” Apart from the opening times, nothing else will change for them either.

Ehrmann is not the only company implementing a closing day. There are other companies, mostly in the furniture industry, says the general manager of the trade association Südwest for Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland, Thomas Scherer, in Mainz. In large furniture stores in particular, you can save “a lot” on electricity costs for heating and lighting.

“The energy costs are a big problem for retailers. We have dealers whose energy costs have increased tenfold. That’s crazy.” But it doesn’t make sense for everyone to close an entire day. There are also some who have reduced their opening hours: “They open half an hour or an hour later and close half an hour or an hour earlier.”

Each house decides for itself. “There is no generally applicable regulation, neither for sectors nor for times,” says Scherer. He has the impression that the implementation of shortened opening hours has only happened occasionally. “The plans were actually more comprehensive than the implementation is at the moment.” But many would still “implement their plans little by little”.

In Saarland, some furniture retailers are also considering closing, including on Mondays, says Scherer. At the same time, the reintroduction of a “long Thursday” is being considered even if a closing day is introduced. In general one could say: “There are many variants.” The company Regitz Wohnen in Saarbrücken, for example, has a consultation day on Mondays, but no general opening day.

Möbel Ehrmann, based in Landau, also offers advice on Mondays – at the customer’s or online, but not in the shop, as the boss says. The changed opening hours were well received by the employees. “You now have two consecutive days off.” And on the remaining five days, you could then advise customers more intensively. Ehrmann’s turnover in 2022 was around 134 million euros.

Ehrmann has already saved 15 percent of energy, for example by switching off lights in shop windows and neon signs on buildings. In addition, the lights in the houses are only switched on when they open.

According to Ehrmann, it has ten sales and six logistics locations. With the now closed Monday, savings of “a clear six-digit sum” are hoped for over the year. Apart from the money, it is also fundamentally important to save resources. “As a furniture retail company, we can do that more easily than others,” says Ehrmann.

According to Scherer, solutions to compensate for the increased energy prices are difficult for retailers. “You always have to find a middle ground,” he says. The dealers tried not to pass on the full increases to the customer. When it comes to saving energy, however, not everything is possible. If the heating is turned down too much, there is no longer a “feel good atmosphere”. “And then the customer doesn’t want to buy anything big or stay there longer than necessary.”

The trade association Südwest represents a good 205,000 employees and 15,000 companies in Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland.

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