'I’ve never been to a traditional market because the supermarket was closed'

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'I’ve never been to a traditional market because the supermarket was closed'

The regulation that requires big retailers to close their stores for two days a month may be relaxed for the first time in ten years. On June 23, the presidential office started an online petition for the public to submit proposals and suggestions to the government. The ending of the mandatory closure of large supermarkets ranked first of all online petitions with 577,415 likes, according to the presidential office on July 31. As a result, the government is now reviewing the policy.
First imposed in 2012, the regulations required super supermarkets (SSMs), such as Emart and Lotte Mart, to close their stores on the second and fourth Sunday of every month to support traditional markets. These retailers are also restricted from operating their stores from 12 a.m. to 10 a.m., including deliveries during this time, under the Distribution Industry Development Act. The mandatory closure of two days a month was implemented under the same act.
Although the regulation was made to protect small and traditional markets, critics say the regulation does not help the traditional markets, but instead increases the inconvenience for customers. Also, online shopping has changed everything. According to the results of a survey conducted by The Federation of Korean Industries, only 8.3 percent of respondents said that they go to local, traditional market when large supermarkets close, while 28.1 percent said they wait until big franchises open.
Meanwhile, the labor union of E-Mart employees is pushing a measure to guarantee holidays including taking a day off in exchange for working on a Sunday. They’ve also been pushing for regulations and laws related to supermarket franchises to be relaxed, pointing out that current rules prevent supermarkets from competing with e-commerce companies.

“I’ve never been to a traditional market because the supermarket was closed.”
“I can not relate to that policy. It is absurd to expect that local markets will be revitalized because supermarkets are shut.”
“Supermarket workers get to spend time with their family only twice a month. Let them have it.”
“People working for supermarkets got a day off at least twice a month thanks to that policy.”  
“We need to find a win-win approach. When one of them collapses, the other will monopolize the market. In the end, those who suffer are consumers.”
“What about retaining the current mandatory closure policy and allowing brick-and-mortar markets to launch services like early-morning delivery?”

BY HWANG JAE-YOUNG, BY HAN HYE-RIM [han.hyerim1@joongang.co.kr]
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