Aldi Nord will be the first food retailer to close its branches earlier from November 1st. In this way, the group wants to make its contribution to saving energy. FOCUS online says what that means for customers.

The topic is already being discussed behind closed doors, and only a few dealers dare to go public. For the first time, a large food retail chain is now implementing shorter opening hours in winter.

Discounter giant Aldi Nord announced on Twitter that it would close its branches nationwide from 8 p.m. on November 1st. The company is particularly active in northern Germany, where it is sometimes open until 10 p.m. in some federal states. The discounter wants to make an active contribution to saving energy.

In a fire letter to the federal states, Tegut managing director Thomas Gutberlet already campaigned for shorter opening hours at the end of September. “In the short term, a reduction would help save energy. In the long term, it would make the job profile in retail more attractive again,” says the Tegut boss in an interview with the “Lebensmittel Zeitung” (paid content).

At the time, the entrepreneur wanted to heat up the discussion with the fire letter. Politicians themselves have not commented on his fire letter. This is important, says Gutberlet.

Shorter opening times? Aldi Nord and Tegut are not alone with this idea.

Edeka merchant Dieter Hieber also advocated shorter opening times in an interview. A few weeks ago, his 16 Edeka branches in the south-west of Baden-Württemberg had to close at 12 noon every Wednesday. All branches are now also open on Wednesdays until 8 p.m. “The absences from illness ensure that those who are there have even more to do. Many employees are at their breaking point,” Hieber said earlier this month. The situation has now calmed down.

Some other Edeka and even Rewe retailers also believe that shorter opening hours can solve an important problem.

As FOCUS learned online, the sick leave in retail has been at a high level for months. The industry is still facing the strong pre-Christmas business. The mood in the shops has changed massively. If the employees were celebrated for their commitment during the Corona pandemic, they would have to listen to hostilities today because of empty shelf space and higher prices.

“I’m totally out of work,” complains Claudia D., for example, an employee at Netto Marken-Discount in Munich. The job in retail has changed rapidly, it has become more stressful. Customers are more irritable. There is a lack of young people and staff. “Two colleagues have already resigned. We just can’t find a successor,” says the 55-year-old in an interview with FOCUS online.

The Bavarian Shop Closing Hours Act is listed as a possible concept.

Supermarkets and discounters would have to close at 8 p.m. on weekdays. Exceptions only apply to branches located in train stations, airports and close to important bus stations. They provide customers with travel provisions, even late into the night.

For consumers, shorter opening hours would have little impact. The fact is that customers tend to avoid night-time shopping in the winter months.

“We’re less busy after 9 p.m.,” says a Rewe employee from near Heidenheim in Baden-Württemberg. The dm across the street also said: “After 9 p.m. the stress decreases.” The large chain does not publish figures on sales or customer numbers. “Please understand that we do not comment on specific figures,” the press office said on request.

Shorter opening hours would mean that employees would have to work less overtime. But then you would possibly collect fewer late surcharges.

At the same time, companies would save energy because, for example, the interior lighting can be switched off completely from 8 p.m. and the heating can be set even lower. The federal government and the state governments responsible for the Shop Protection Act are silent.

On September 1, the federal government asked service providers and dealers to switch off the outdoor lighting from 10 p.m. The light has also gone out in the shop windows since the beginning of the month after the store closed.

In principle, the companies should switch on the respective lighting at nightfall from around 5 p.m. and then switch it off again within five hours.