If the thorny issue of closing business on Sunday still does not achieve consensus, several Quebec hardware stores have nevertheless decided to revise their schedules. Nearly half of them will cut their hours in 2022, according to a review by the Quebec Building Hardware and Materials Association (AQMAT).
This is a real asset for the president of the association, Richard Darveaux, who has been campaigning for months for a reduction in working hours in order to allow the merchants and their staff to breathe a little, in a context where there is an acute shortage of personnel. Thus, out of about 800 stores, he made nearly 400 changes.
However, Mr. Darvo wants to pass a law to force businesses to close on Sundays and prevent unfair competition. “If there was a law, it would put everyone on an equal footing,” he explains.
The head of AQMAT had already mentioned the idea of two merchants deciding together to have similar business hours. However, this practice is illegal. The competition bureau has advised Mr. Darfox that he risks a fine of up to $25 million or even a prison sentence if he encourages its members to agree on joint opening hours.
“If there’s a movement to close on Sunday, we’ll be the first to get on board,” says Eric Deslongchamps, owner of three Rona stores located in Mont-Laurier, Rivière Rouge and Maniwaki.
Although his business is open seven days a week, Mr. Deslongchamps is one hardware store that has reduced its hours. The reason: Recruiting personnel was giving him a headache. Its stores are closed on Thursday evening. On Fridays, activities stop at 8 pm instead of 9 pm. The businessman made this decision despite having two major competitors, Canadian Tire and Home Hardware, near his Mont-Laurier store.
When I drove by Air Canada on Tuesday evening, there were two cars in the parking lot. We have reduced lead times, which hurt the company the least.
Eric Deslongchamps, owner of three Rona stores located in Mont-Laurier, Rivière Rouge and Maniwaki
According to him, not a single customer complained about these changes, and his sales did not decrease. For now, the hardware store has no intention of returning, especially since its employees have shown great gratitude to it. “It gives them more time to spend with their families.”
Also, in order to allow its employees to “breathe,” Rona Major & Major, a hardware store located in Ahuntsic, Montreal, now closes at 7 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays. Days end at 6pm Monday through Wednesday. “We did this to reduce the workload of the staff,” explains Assistant Director Pascal Prudhomme. “After three years of the pandemic, we were all exhausted.”
Responsible for scheduling and staff management, EngI Prud’homme also noted that store traffic between 7pm and 9pm was less and less important. “Sometimes it’s more expensive to stay open.”
On this note, do not plan to go back to “yesterday’s” working hours. “Anyway, I don’t have anyone left who wants to do that [ces quarts de travail-là] And despite the reduction in opening hours, the retailer, with a team of 48 employees, has more staff than before. “We increased our staff to lighten the corners of the store. It takes more personnel to manage hours less than available,” explains M.I Prud’homme, who adds in the process that newcomers are not ready to fill all the shifts on offer.
In Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, in the Laurentians, Christian Belair, general manager of the Lortie et Martin department store, does not see the day when he will return to his old hours. Currently, the business is closed on Sundays as well as Thursday and Friday evenings. He says that many of the new employees who are called to work every Saturday react with little enthusiasm. Therefore, Mr. Bellair struggles to imagine what would happen if they had to come to work on Sunday.
We learned to live with this new schedule. The more we develop, the more we tell ourselves that if we start opening again on Sundays and evenings, we risk very reduced hours and a lower quality of service.
Christian Peeler, General Manager of Lortie et Martin hardware store
About 100 people worked in the hardware store before the pandemic hit. Today there are 85.
“People come to see us because their well just froze over or their snow blower has stopped working,” he explains. We have to give a lot of advice. So if you split that up over seven days with fewer employees, you don’t get there. »
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