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Tenerife needs Sunday shopping 

Debate about liberalisation of opening hours is set to rage.

How do you stand on Sunday trading? As a
shopper, you are probably all in favour. If you are a very devout Christian, you are likely to be more against than for. And if you are a small trader struggling to survive in Tenerife, you are likely to shudder at the thought, wonder how you will cope with staffing and overheads and even more, against the competition of the superstores and malls.
It’s a difficult, controversial and topical issue but in my view and that of many others, Tenerife shops need to be open on a Sunday. It’s as simple as that.
How many times have you driven to Las Chafiras expecting a store to be open, only to find the doors closed with no sign of life? In fact, driving through the Las Chafiras industrial estate on a Sunday or on a fiesta day is the only time you won’t get stuck in the traffic.
The big question tourists here ask is why? Tenerife has already indicated that it needs to move with the times and not get stuck in the past. It is concerned about its airports and ports, its visitor numbers, the countries it promotes itself in, air taxes, customer service and so much more. Rightly so. It’s time Tenerife was hauled out of the general feeling that it is 20 years behind the time and everyone needs to be united in this aim. Great strides are being made and now it is time to make another.
Shopping is one huge subject which needs attention. Sadly, it is not simply down to the choice of individual shops whether they open or not on a Sunday. The trading laws in Spain are very strict, some of the toughest of all countries, in fact. However, with the advent of 2013 also comes liberalisation, allowing various cities and tourist areas to open for longer hours and for more Sundays and fiestas each year.
The regulations differ so much from area to area that it is impossible for the ordinary man in the street to understand them. All they know is that Sunday is a day they would like to do more shopping on and to have more stores open would be a blessing.
It’s something the Mayor of Santa Cruz has been highlighting for many months now. The capital is increasingly becoming a magnet for cruise ships and he says it is imperative for more shops to be open on a Sunday to give them something to do. Those smaller shops who have opened their doors on a Sunday have already indicated it is not worth the effort but isn’t this a chicken in an egg situation? Surely shops have to continue to open on a Sunday for some time before the public become confident that if they travel to a location, the shops will be open.
Tenerife is a tourist island over and above everything else. For most of the time, the sun does shine but when it is cooler, visitors need plenty of things to do. For local people as well, a trip to the big stores in Las Chafiras, for example, would be the obvious thing to do on a Sunday when DIY or furniture purchases are in mind. Why are only a few garden centres open on a Sunday, for instance? In Britain, this would be unheard of.
It should be remembered that perhaps ten to 15 years ago, Sunday opening was also a thorny problem back in England. The same arguments were raised as here but today, it is quite the norm. Pop in to any High Street or trading estate and you will find the stores open. In fact, in England, it’s becoming quite common for shops to open around the clock, 24 hours.
Here in the Canary Islands, all sorts of views are being put forward as Sunday opening once again comes under debate. Some politicians, such as the PSOE, want more freedom, regardless of how big or how small they are. Madrid is one of the first cities to gain autonomous freedom of trading hours and it believes it will kick-start a consumer recovery and encourage more spending.
No-one expects Sunday opening to be a magic wand for Tenerife but the time has to come when all shops can open when they want, provided the matter of choice remains. Hopefully, it will be sooner rather than later.
What do you think about Sunday opening in Tenerife? Should it happen or should restrictions still apply? We would be interested to hear your views if you would like to write to “Letters to the Editor”.

By Brian Eldridge