‘Saturday closures will cost supermarkets NIS 160m’

BDI study finds Tel Aviv municipality would lose NIS 1.5m in fines should AM:PM, Tiv Ta'am close doors on Saturday.

June 27, 2013 16:22
1 minute read.
The dairy aisle in a Jerusalem supermarket

The dairy aisle in a Jerusalem supermarket 370 . (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

If Tel Aviv closes grocery stores such as Tiv Ta’am and AM:PM on Shabbat in accordance with a recent Supreme Court ruling, the companies will lose NIS 160 million a year, according to a study by business information group BDI released Thursday.

The Tel Aviv Municipality must enact harsher measures to pressure big supermarket chains such Tiv Ta’am and AM:PM to close on Shabbat, the court ruled Tuesday, saying the current NIS 660 in weekly fines were insufficient.

The ruling came in response to secular store owners who said they were at an unfair disadvantage against big chains who had the means to stay open on Shabbat. They, too, deserved a day of rest, they argued, and could have one if Tel Aviv enforced the laws on the books more stringently.

The study found that the municipality would lose an annual NIS 1.5m. in fines should the two chains close all of their fine-paying branches. As such, the current fine would have to increase more than 100-fold to make Shabbat closures the more attractive business option.

Shopping that’s skipped on Shabbat will not necessarily be made up on other days, BDI CEO Tehila Yanai said.

“Much of the shopping done at these chains on Shabbat are immediate, not planned purchases,” she said, adding that the higher prices the chains charge for being open on Shabbat will drive customers to other chains.

That eventuality would be good news for competitors. A savvy move by the municipality might find a middle ground, raising fees to make more money and fulfill the court’s ruling, while still giving the stores leeway to stay open.

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