Business & Tech

Mixed response from retailers on changing state’s time zone

FILE - Dave LeMote uses an allen wrench to adjust hands on a stainless steel tower clock at Electric Time Company, Inc. in Medfield, Mass., in this March 7, 2014 file photo. Most Americans will set their clocks 60 minutes forward before heading to bed Saturday night March 7, 2015, but daylight saving time officially starts Sunday at 2 a.m. local time (0700GMT). (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

Elise Amendola/AP/file 2014

One theory behind extending daylight saving time year-round is that merchants would rack up more sales because consumers would be out and about later, with all that extra sun at the end of winter days.

But even shopkeepers can’t reach a consensus on this. The Retailers Association of Massachusetts just submitted survey results to a state commission that’s weighing whether to recommend moving to Atlantic Standard Time, aka our daylight saving time, on a year-round basis.

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The sample size is relatively small, about 5 percent of RAM’s 4,000 members. But the results are worth noting. Roughly one third — 34 percent — of respondents support extending daylight saving time year round, instead of springing forward and falling back. This group sees an increase in business, energy savings, and an end to the annoying twice-a-year clock switch.

Another 24 percent support a year-round Eastern Standard Time. But the biggest reason seemed to be the disruptive effects from the current March and November time shifts, rather than any great benefit from having the sun rise and set earlier in the summer.

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More than 40 percent prefer the status quo, or at least prefer waiting for a national solution. They’re particularly worried about getting out of step with neighboring states.

The potential for interstate confusion in New England is a legitimate concern, one that could outweigh any benefits. The biggest takeaway: If Massachusetts decides to pursue a time-zone shift, we shouldn’t go it alone.

Jon Chesto can be reached at jon.chesto@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.
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