Sunday shop closure studies predict mass layoffs and budget shortfalls

March 23, 2015

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According to one of what may have been several impact studies on Sunday closures commissioned by the Ministry of National Economy, nearly 63 percent of respondents strongly opposed the forced closing of retail stores.  However, the same study found that the results of the poll could be significantly influenced by employing convincing communication tactics.

The Ministry of National Economy ordered a study from M.S. Concord Bt. in 2011 to prepare an assessment of how the mandatory Sunday closure of retail stores would likely affect the shopping habits of consumers. A person involved in the preparation of the assessment said that as many as three impact studies may have been performed, but the Ministry of National Economy still has not been able to locate the paperwork.

In April 2011 M.S. Concord Bt. asked 800 people how the Sunday closures would affect their shopping habits and what the people thought of the idea, Sándor Mátyási told Népszabadság. Mátyási is a sociologist and was responsible for carrying out the study on behalf of M.S. Concord Bt.

Mátyási has taught at Eötvös Loránd University and now teaches at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. He specializes in socio-economics and social conflict management. His company was incorporated in the 1990s and has performed public opinion polls for businesses and the Hungarian government. He tells Népszabadság that his company also prepared a similar study on the impact of introducing toll roads in Hungary.

Mátyási says the Ministry of National Economy contacted him in spring 2011 and asked whether he would prepare a study on the effects of a mandatory Sunday closure for businesses in Hungary’s retail sector. He says his company carried out the study in March 2011 and submitted its findings to the ministry in mid-April that same year. However, he says, he has no idea whether the ministry even used the studies.

Mátyási says the Ministry of National Economy ordered three such studies on the effects of forced Sunday retail closures. He says his company was contracted to carry out a study regarding the law’s effects on consumers, but that, in order get the best possible information, the ministry also planned on having studies performed which assessed the law’s effects on employers and also employees.

Mátyási says it is likely that the ministry also used data provided by trade and commercial associations and labor unions, but he has no evidence that this took place.

Because the study is technically the property of the ministry, Mátyási said he is unable to provide his findings. However, he did share some interesting facts regarding its results.

Mátyási says that similar to a recent public Ipsos poll regarding how consumers feel about the forced Sunday closures, a solid majority of respondents (in his case 62.9 percent) were strongly opposed.

Mátyási’s studied also found that the results of the poll could be significantly influenced to the contrary by employing convincing communication tactics.

He says his company’s findings indicate that the majority of the bottom one-third of consumers and younger shoppers did not shop on Sundays, and that Sunday shopping was performed mostly by middle-class consumers.

Mátyási believes that as long as the opposition to forced Sunday closures of retailers is only transitional, Hungary’s consumers will adapt quickly to the new system.

NOL.hu has recently published several articles according to which the Ministry of National Economy did, in fact, order impact studies, including ones indicating that the closures would result in mass layoffs (between 10,000-15,000 of retail workers) and budget shortfalls of close to HUF 50 billion (USD 230 million).

On Friday a ministry spokesperson denied having any knowledge of such a report.  György Vámos, general secretary of the National Alliance of Retailers, told Klubradio that he has known about the study since 2011.

Referenced in this article:

Orbánék tudták, hogy rossz lesz nekünk, és hagyták, NOL.hu; 20 March 2015.

Három tanulmányt is rendelt az NGM, NOL.hu; 23 March 2015