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SHOULD SHOPS KEEP THEIR DOORS CLOSED IN WINTER?

by Clyde Mitchell

In January 2011, Suskes carried out a survey of shops that kept their doors open in Keswick on a day when the outside temperature was minus 3C. Of 25 shops surveyed, 19 had their doors open resulting in significant heat loss. Since more than half of those shops were centrally heated or had curtain wall heating in the doorways, heating costs are likely to have been significantly increased. Many of the staff complained about the policy, saying it was wasteful and made the shop draughty for them. The principal reason given for the open doors was the belief that the public would be deterred from entering if the door was closed.

To find out whether this really was the case, four members of Suskes carried out a survey of the attitude of shoppers in the town over two weekends this January. We asked 162 people their opinion about shops that fixed their doors open and also whether the shop door being closed would deter them from entering. The results were that:

90 % of people were against doors being kept open.

10 % were in favour of keeping them open

94.5 % of people said that they would not be put off entering a shop with closed doors but was clearly open for trade.

4.5% would choose shops with fixed open doors.

Interviewees often added their personal comments. Some specifically stated that they would be put off using a shop if it kept its door open. Several parents with pushchairs stated that they experienced little problem in getting push chairs through closed doors.

Those that were against doors being fixed open often gave their reasons unprompted: ‘silly’, ‘wrong’, 'wasteful’, ‘bad for the climate’, ’be better to retain heat in the shop’, ‘adds to the price’. Reasons were given by all ages but younger shoppers seemed more aware of, and ready to speak about, environmental and climate change issues.

Suskes believes that it is wasteful and environmentally damaging to have shop doors kept open. It adds significantly to global warming. The survey we undertook suggests that there is no real benefit. Research by Cambridge University indicated that up to 50% of a shop’s energy is wasted by leaving doors open, leading to unnecessary heating costs which are passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices. Closing a shop door when heating is used for a year cuts a shop’s annual CO2 emissions by the equivalent to 3 return London to Hong Kong flights. It can also reduce energy costs by up to 50%,

We advocate that all shops in Keswick should follow a policy of only keeping shop doors open when heating (or air conditioning) is not in use or needed.

There are some honourable exceptions but, of those retailers which kept their doors open, the great majority were branches of national chains. When we put the results of our survey to staff on duty, all responded that it was “company policy” that doors should be kept open but that they agreed with us that it was wrong and that they would forward a copy of our survey to their area managers. The vast majority of local, independent retailers kept their doors closed.

For more information on the national campaign, see: www.closethedoor.org.uk

March 2012

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close the

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