European retailers turn off lights, cut opening hours to save energy

LONDON—Amid rising utility bills and the threat of rationing, some European retailers are considering turning off the lights and shortening hours this winter.

Energy bosses and government officials are asking people and businesses to reduce their electricity use and develop contingency plans to reduce their dependence on gas imports in the event of a war-related gas shortage in Ukraine. urges you to.

SPAR Austria is reducing storefront advertising and exterior lighting hours in more than 1,500 stores nationwide, a spokesperson said in an email. With more than 1.2 million square meters (12.92 million square feet) of store space, the business posted €8.56 billion ($8.86 billion) in retail sales last year.

The move will cut the retailer’s energy consumption by 1 million kilowatt-hours a year, a spokesperson said, without specifying how much.

Last month, Leclerc’s president warned that France’s largest food retailer may cut store hours to deal with power shortages.

This comes days after rival French supermarket operator Carrefour signed an “ecowatt charter” with national energy grid operator RTE to reduce electricity consumption in its stores during periods of high demand. is.

Some retailers, such as Belgium’s Colruyt and Ahold, may be partially insulated from potential disruptions and rising costs due to existing sustainable energy programs that save electricity.

A Colright spokesperson said: “While no specific measures are planned in the short term, we strongly hope to continue our efforts as part of our overall energy policy.” “So we opted for things like closed freezers and cold rooms, without any illuminated signs.”

According to a company spokesperson, the company has 44 “fossil-free” stores that use only waste heat and green electricity for heating, without using fuel oil or natural gas.

Ahold is also looking for ways to reduce energy usage, chief executive Frans Muller said in an interview.

“We haven’t made any decisions about our hours of operation, but we’re looking more into our energy use,” he said.

The company has already implemented several gas-saving programs, including running all of its Albert Heijn stores on sustainable energy next year.

($1 = 0.9665 Euro)

Richa Naidu