Italian customs are hard to change.
Prime Minister Monti passed an unpressedented law that allows shopkeepers to stay open 24/7 including holidays. Now I know that doesn’t sound mind-boggling to a country that has a Wal-Mart in every city where one can by a can of kidney beans or a Taylor Swift CD at 3am. But to the average Italian, particularly those in the south, what we consider convenience is viewed as an intrusion.
Shopkeepers are not chained to their stores in Italy, nor do they seem to want to be. The chance to serve a few extra clients by being available later or on holidays is not worth the sacrifice of family and life outside of work. For the moment, most shoppers are sticking to the traditional hours. The Day of Epiphany showed that old habits are going to be hard (if not impossible) to break as stores remained closed outside of a few cafes and restaurants. Will Monti’s attempt to stimulate growth in Italy’s struggling economy be able to break age-old traditions and the professional guilds?