Business

Europe’s retailers are blacking out aisles and considering reduced working hours to manage utility bills

As energy costs rise and the risk of rationing increases, some European retailers are turning off their lights and considering shorter opening hours this winter.

Energy chiefs and government officials have urged people and businesses to cut electricity consumption and draw up contingency plans to reduce their reliance on gas imports when the war in Ukraine hits shortages.

The Austrian branch of multinational retail chain Spar Group is reducing lighting hours for advertising on storefronts and outside its more than 1,500 stores across the country, a spokesman said in an email.

The move will reduce the retailer’s energy use by one million kilowatt-hours annually, the spokesman said, without saying how much money it would save.

Last month, the boss of Leclerc warned that France’s largest food retailer could reduce the opening hours of its stores to cope with power shortages.

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The Austrian branch of multinational retail chain Spar Group is reducing lighting hours for advertising on storefronts and outside its more than 1,500 stores across the country. Photo: Martin Divisek/Bloomberg

Just over a week earlier, rival French supermarket operator Carrefour signed an “EcoWatt charter” with national energy grid operator RTE to reduce electricity consumption in its stores at times of high demand.

Some retailers, including Belgium’s Colruyt and Ahold, could be partially shielded from potential disruption and higher costs due to existing sustainable energy programs that save electricity.

“No concrete measures are planned in the short term, but the firm goal is to continue the efforts as part of our overall energy policy,” said a spokesman for Colruyt.

“That’s why we don’t have lighted signs, we opt for closed freezers, a cold room etc,” added the spokesperson.

The company has 44 zero fossil fuel stores that use no heating oil or natural gas, but are heated entirely with waste heat and green electricity, the spokesman said.

Ahold is also looking at ways to reduce its energy consumption, said managing director Frans Muller.

“We haven’t made any decisions about opening hours, but we look a lot more at energy consumption.”

https://www.independent.ie/business/world/europes-retailers-darken-aisles-and-mull-reduced-hours-to-manage-power-bills-41903888.html Europe’s retailers are blacking out aisles and considering reduced working hours to manage utility bills

Fry Electronics Team

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