Some 100 bakeries faced with serious financial problems were forced to close down in the last six months, following the implementation of longer shopping hours, the Cyprus Bakeries Association said.
The Association made a written plea to Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou not to renew the decree that expires on February 28 that would see shops continue to stay open until late.
The decree on longer shop opening hours was first issued in July 2013.
According to the decree, shops can stay open from 5am until 11pm from Monday to Saturday (including Wednesdays) and from 9am until 11pm on Sundays.
Previously only shops in tourist areas were allowed to stay open for longer at weekends.
Head of the Cyprus Bakeries Association Lakis Savvides said that one of the reasons that so many bakeries shut down is that some supermarkets target the closing down of bakeries by offering bakery products such as bread at reduced prices.
“The aim of this practice is to eliminate competition and to speed up the closing down of bakeries,” claimed Savvides.
“More than 100 bakeries have closed down in the last six months.
“Their closing down is attributed not just to longer shop opening hours but also the financial situation, even though the decree was the final blow.”
He said that this was also owed to the fact that supermarkets did not abide by the rules over not selling bakery products and confectionery on Sunday, until the Labour Minister prepares the new bill to regulate the new regime.
AKEL MP Andreas Fakontis said that data from the statistical service disagrees with the Labour Minister’s claims that thousands of unemployed Cypriots have been hired due to longer shop opening hours.
He called on the state to admit that the decree has failed in achieving its aims to create more jobs and increase business activity during a recession.
Instead more businesses were closing which only makes the unemployment queue longer.
“In order to justify her efforts to renew the decree on longer shop opening hours, the Labour Minister said that 5,000 new employees were appointed because of the decree, however these figures are not valid,” said Andreas Fakontis. According to the statistical service, in December 2013 unemployment in the trade sector increased by 676 in relation to the previous year, while the average unemployment rate in the sector increased by 32%, or 2,241 people, with 9,239 unemployed.
He added that employment in the trade sector during the last three months of 2013 was reduced by 7.3% or 4,940 people in relation to the same period of 2012.
Fakontis argued the few large businesses that hire unemployed people to work part-time or on Sundays offer ridiculously low salaries.
He said the decree damages small businesses and causes a series of problems such as unfair competition while it also encourages infringement of the minimum wage and working hours.