Sunday, April 22, 2012

Commerce and Culture

A Saturday morning on Arezzo's main street. 

We mentioned in our entry about Easter that everything shuts down for the holiday.  Well, that’s no longer true. It was national news that one grocery store chain, Pam, was open on Easter Sunday.  The store reported big crowds and good sales.  Because of the economic crisis the big stores are doing a brisk business.

For several decades the national government has regulated when stores could be open.  This applied mostly to the big chain stores and was presumably done to protect the small local stores from being overwhelmed by the big boxes as well as giving employees a paid day off.  In his drive to rev up the economy, Mario Monti, Italy’s current prime minister, revoked this national control to allow stores to open whenever they want. 

This caused a huge uproar!  Unions and some mayors were against it, whereas the corporations and other government officials were for it.  Easter was the first test.  The next national holidays are April 25 (National Independence Day) and May 1 (Italian Labor Day).  Pam has said that they will be open.  Other stores are still deciding whether to follow suit. We’ll see what happens but it seems the big stores will win this one.

This seems to be the first step on the road to the 24/7 economy that is now the norm in the States.  Already a few small shops here in Arezzo are not closing for the afternoon break or are closing for a shorter period.  We understand that this is the way the world is going but it’s sad to see that, at least on this front, Italy is losing its uniqueness and becoming like the rest of the industrialized world.  It’s a shame to see this part of the Italian way of life beginning to disappear.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, just spent a happy time catching up. I wonder if you will write sometime about what kind of an investment an adventure like this turns out to be? Financially, I mean.
    And how about an update on the dancing for the younger crowd -- and the "vibrator" prize!