The McArthur Glen outlet, one of the largest in Europe, closed its doors to shoppers during Easter for the first time. During the festivities, only three outlets were active: Mondovicino Outlet in Cunese, Torino Outlet Village and Fidenza Village in the province of Parma.
Factory outlet villages, now a fool-proof shopping experience, keep growing continuously throughout Europe. This phenomenon has even received government backing in some countries such as Spain which adopted a strategic plan for tourism shopping in 2015.
A tourism in its own right
Outlets are a fundamental part to this type of shopping. According to data from Shopping Tourism Italian Monitor, 1.5 million tourists choose to visit Italy for its shopping. This vast tourism influx accounts for 40% of Italian shopping villages, with Chinese and Russian tourists being the most regular.
Despite their importance, outlets are not the sole reason for the sheer number of tourists visiting Italy. Purchases from tourist in Italy’s most iconic cities add up to over €2.5 billion annually. Milan finds itself ahead of Paris, London and New York as the main shopping destination; while Rome and Florence are among the top 10.
Weekends have always been the heights of shopping. However, the looming Sunday closure could change this. This battle has been waging for years now, partly due to new governmental laws, retailers and commerce labour unions.
The chamber audition
The opinion of Roberto Bonati, president of the Outlet Retailers Group, held for the Commission Production, Commerce and Tourism Activities of the Chamber of Deputies, should be kept in mind.
If approved, the new order will include two compulsory monthly closures and, during the year, eight holiday closures.
“During Saturdays and Sundays, outlets make 50% of their revenue divided equally among the two days. A 20% revenue loss is predicted, which represents the net profit of the activities, since to offer affordable prices, outlets work with narrow margins which require large volumes of sales”.
Switching topic to the work staff, Bonati states “Saturdays and Sundays require the employment, in most cases, of part time students. Two shifts are now predicted for fulltime staff. The work week comprises of 40 hours with no more than two free Sundays a month. A predicted 20% of staff will be made redundant, which results in 4000 positions”.
The above threatens another potential shopping downfall. The closure of shopping villages would direct tourism traffic to two very plausible alternatives: Croatia and Switzerland. This imminent closure threatens more than just outlets, it would impact hospitality and recreational structures as well.
This brings back to the game board a much-disliked topic during sales season; e-commerce. Seven days out of seven, 24 hours per day without any limitations whatsoever, that is the unrelenting pace of e-commerce, which is an unjust and unjustifiable advantage according to many delivery operators.
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