Grocery chain fends off Sunday competition

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One of the most active opponents to a proposal to allow retail stores to open for business on Sundays is the dominant player in the market that already is allowed to keep 350 of its stores open through the weekend. Competitors claim NorgesGruppen just wants to keep Sunday shoppers for itself.

NorgesGruppen owns grocery store chains including Kiwi, Spar and Joker, all of which have many stores open on Sunday either because they’re small enough to fulfill existing requirements or because they’re located in areas where there are many tourists. That loophole in the current law that otherwise bans Sunday shopping means that large Kiwi and Spar stores in places like Tjøme, Nøtterøy, Son and other areas with lots of holiday homes can stay open all week during the summer. In the coastal town of Son, for example, the Sunday shopping season runs from March to October.

NorgesGruppen has been vigorously opposing a government proposal to allow all stores to stay open. “Those who already can open on Sundays of course don’t want others to be able to have the same option,” Erik Fagerli of PA Consulting, who specializes in the grocery business, told newspaper Aftenposten.

The Bunnpris grocery chain, best known for running local grocery stores small enough to also stay open on Sunday, don’t want to lose the lucrative Sunday shopping market either. Bunnpris, along with NorgesGruppen, have been fighting to block the proposed law change through trade association Virke, which claims to represent the grocery branch. Aftenposten reported that Virke only represents NorgesGruppen and Bunnpris, though, irritating other grocery chains that favour the law change and want to compete against Bunnpris and NorgesGruppen for Sunday shoppers.

The law change proposal is currently out for hearing. The Labour Party opposes it, but has also caught criticism for not supporting the new jobs that Sunday shopping could create.

newsinenglish.no staff