Why some flooring dealers don’t find value in keeping Sunday hours
January 21/28, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 17
By Megan Salzano
Competition for consumer dollars continues to rise between the independent flooring retailer and its big box, ecommerce brethren. In order to keep those dollars in store, independent retailers are charged with frequently updating store strategies to enhance the overall customer experience. Those strategies include everything from employee training initiatives to inviting curb appeal, all focused on boosting foot traffic.
However, while many independent flooring retailers have integrated a variety of new strategies to help draw in new and repeat customers, there is one opportunity that remains untapped for many: Sunday hours.
Weekend shopping is, for many consumers, prime time. Shoppers can take their time researching large purchases, such as flooring, and working on home remodeling plans before walking into stores. However, independent flooring dealers across the country say opening their doors on Sunday—while having the potential to bring in new customers on a busy shopping day—is not, in fact, an apt strategy. Instead, many note adverse effects to the business.
“It is harder and harder to have people who want to work retail hours,” said Nick Freadreacea, president of Louisville, Ky.-based The Flooring Gallery. “When you throw in Sunday, it cuts out a lot of parents who could be great salespeople but just need the work/life balance. Yes, being there for our customers is very important, but we have found that having a happy staff that stays with us for a long time is how we have survived and grown in our communities.”
Many others echo Freadreacea’s sentiments, and some note the detriment to their current employees. For example, Steve Weisberg, president, Crest Flooring, Allentown, Pa., said his store is closed on Sundays because he doesn’t feel his employees should have to work then. “It was called a ‘day of rest’ and I feel that—although we could probably do a fair amount of business on a Sunday—it’s more important for me to treat my employees as I would want to be treated. Frankly, 40-plus years ago I worked Sunday hours and I did not like it.”
Craig Phillips, president of Akron, Ohio-based Barrington Carpet, said the store has never held Sunday hours and isn’t looking to change that practice. “I believe it should be a day of rest that our staff can fully dedicate to themselves, their families and their personal lives,” he said. “It is vital to keep a balance between our work and home lives, and being closed on Sunday is a pillar of that belief.”
For some retailers, Sunday hours are not only a hinderance to the business but have proven unsuccessful in one way or another. “Our stores were open on Sundays in the past, but there was not enough business to justify the extra staff needed to make up for the days off during the week,” Freadreacea explained. “It seemed that when someone worked on Sunday and took off during the week, they missed enough business that Sunday was not a benefit.”
Billy Mahone III, vice president of operations, Atlas Floors Carpet One, San Antonio, said he has spoken to employees of local competitors who stay open on Sundays, and they have always said it was not a very busy day for retail traffic. “We have even tested it ourselves for a few months at one of our showrooms with limited results,” he said.
Instead, retailers far and wide have implemented extended week-day hours and special in-store events to cater to the needs of their customer base. Carlton Billingsley, owner of Floors & More in Benton Ark., for example, said the store works after hours by appointment. In addition, the store has a website that is open for shopping 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. On the website, he noted, the store has samples and information the consumer can research and request anytime.
The store also does promotional events and sales with extended hours (just not on Sundays), “but the majority of our business is still written during these events in the weekday period,” Billingsley explained.
All and all when it comes to Sunday hours, Billingsley does not think the store has lost any business. In fact, morning and midday hours on Wednesday and Thursday are higher traffic days for the store. “With our website, we have products that can be shopped for and appointments scheduled for a consultant to visit the customer. We have flexible hours with appointments and have not had demand from the customer for us to meet with them on Sundays,” he said.
The Flooring Gallery’s Freadreacea added that, in the new economy, there really are no prime shopping hours. “In the past, Saturdays were the busiest day and maybe Monday evening. Now, our traffic is consistent during the week and on the weekend. We track our store traffic and, other than special events, it is very consistent,” he said.
The Flooring Gallery remains open until 8 p.m. during the week and 6 p.m. on Saturdays. Freadreacea said the extended hours give customers an opportunity to shop in the evenings and on Saturday to make up for being closed on Sunday. “We are a significant advertiser in our markets and promote all the major holidays as well as specialty events to draw traffic,” he said. “I am sure we miss business not being open on Sunday, but our hours are established, and I believe the majority of our customers are served by the other hours we are open.”
For Barrington Carpet, the store also closes on all major holidays but is open extended hours (9 a.m. to 8 p.m.) Monday through Thursday. “Our evening and Saturday traffic is good,” Phillips said. “Saturday is our best retail day historically. Our customers are used to our hours and we have seen no pushback from our decision to close on Sundays. I really do not feel we are missing any opportunities. With the exception of the box stores, we do not have any competition in our immediate marketplace that is open on Sunday.”
Atlas Floors does the opposite, staying open on many major holidays with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Independence Day. It has not seen any adverse effects to remaining closed every Sunday. “Since we have always been closed on Sunday, and we have ensured our hours are properly posted everywhere online, we believe we still are able to capture most weekend customers on Saturdays,” Mahone said. “The bulk of our retail traffic still comes on Saturdays.”