July 25, 2011

Israel Contemplates Sunday as Another Day of Rest. Is it Good for Kosher Sales?

I was rather intrigued by the recent proposal that was floated in the Israeli press about adding Sunday as a day of rest. One of the cornerstones of the creation of a Jewish state prior to its founding in 1948 was that Shabbat would be the official day of rest. But over the years, Fridays have increasingly become the day of chores, from preparing for the Shabbat to routine tasks like washing the car. Friday had for all practical purposes become Israel’s Sunday, but for the fact that it was too short, particularly in the Winter. I am most intrigued by the Sunday idea, not that I do not have any misgivings about the consequences of a shortened work week in Israel, but what it might do for food sales. To look into the broader question, a special investigative committee was formed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to provide clarity on the potential economic, social, and religious as well as other repercussions and benefits surrounding the Sunday option. But I was just curious what Israeli retailers think and thanks to a few e-mails found that they were in favor of the idea. One told me that Sundays are a slow day in any case because many people still enjoy “leftovers,” but even he agreed that the day off would encourage many to take a trip to the mall or the supermarket. He also said that for retailers and others in the service industry, it would still be a six-day work week, but “it might be worth it.” One retailer even suggested that Sundays off would encourage many of Israel’s 1 million Arabs to use the day for shopping since they are not in the shopping mode on Fridays and have no options for Saturdays.