Letter to the Editor: Slovak business laying dead

A few issues ago you wrote about the declining fate of retail outlets faced with foreign competition and in this issue [Vol. 8, No.2, January 21 - 27] you again make the case that the foreigners are doing well.

Perhaps it is my few years of study at a business school (Montreal's McGill University) or just common sense, but it seems more that Slovak business simply does not want to compete, and prefers to play dead. Tesco and Carrefour, to name two retail chains I know, have longer hours, are open more days and that often makes the case. Can't the local business community see that the stores are full on Saturdays after twelve and on Sundays too?

As someone who has spent some time in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, I have been frustrated many times in my efforts to purchase souvenirs or other goods because the stores were closed. I wonder how much tourist value is wasted on Saturdays and Sundays when antique shops are closed, galleries are closed, department stores are mostly closed, even restaurants.

Not only could locals imitate longer hours, but if they added customer relations and, horrors, clerk-initiated bagging, wouldn't that be something? In North America store clerks not only bag, they even stand.

Competition is about innovation, and that can include imitation. Perhaps there is a Slovak way of doing it better hiding out there in someone's imagination. That would be the comparative advantage.

Daniel de Cournoyer,
Bratislava

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