For more than a century, the United States, Canada, and Australia have observed daylight saving time, sometimes called daylight time or summer time in the United Kingdom and European Union. This bi-annual custom of adjusting the clock “adds” an hour of sunlight to the evenings during the warmer months. The Sunshine Protection Act of 2022 wants to end this time change once and for all. The bill seeks to establish daylight saving time all year — and we’re very interested in the outcome.
The US has observed daylight saving time, or DST, since 1918. But just one year later, DST was repealed in 1919 as a wartime measure but was reinstated in 1942 during WWII. In 1966 Congress passed the Uniform Time Act to “promote the adoption and observance of uniform time within the standard time zones,” which made DST the norm in the US. In 1973, the US tried year-round DST in an attempt to combat a national energy crisis, but the country returned to having four months of “standard” time in 1974. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 later changed DST’s start and end dates, moving the time changes earlier in the spring and later in the fall.
Considering all of the back and forth with this opportunity to optimize daylight, it’s easy for the benefits of the practice to get lost. DST was designed with everyday people and the economy in mind. While DST was created as a way to increase productivity and efficiency for businesses and factories in Germany, to preserve candles in 1784 and energy during the early 1900s, in practice, DST adds an hour of sunlight to the end of each work day, which may benefit the workforce by offering more time for fun in the sun, literally.
At Credico, we are keeping an eye on changes like these that have the potential to benefit both businesses and consumers. Shifting one hour of sunshine from the early morning, when most of us are still in bed, to the evening, when most people are likely to take advantage of the extra time, may be a win-win. For consumers, spending more time with family, achieving better health outcomes, and improving work-life balance look like ideal opportunities. When you think about it, “when the sun has set, no candle can replace it,” said American writer George R.R. Martin. And it’s true.
For busy parents, active seniors, and professionals alike, the extra sunlight can be a bonus to their hectic workday by allowing them the extra daylight hours to run errands, spend time with friends, make shopping trips, or safely perform repairs on their home. Supporters also say it would enable children to play outdoors later, and a 2015 study indicates the extra sunlight during the evening commute may reduce crime. And while the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) advocates for permanent standard time rather than DST, AASM president Jennifer Martin said that “restoring permanent, year-round standard time is the best option for our health and well-being.”
For businesses, an extra hour of sunlight could make a difference as well. Michael Downing, author of “Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time,” notes that businesses see increased purchasing activity when there’s an extra hour of sunlight: “Americans really do leave their houses when there’s more sunlight after work.” And according to a 2017 JP Morgan Chase Institute study, the switch back to standard time is associated with a drop in spending between 2.2% and 4.9%. While this change may vary depending on where your company operates, such a drop in business could be devastating.
The Global Economics, a UK-based financial publication and bi-annual business magazine, believes DST’s impact on businesses will be good as there will be a “boost in consumer spending and certain industries.”
“Companies associated with leisure and entertainment can work in tandem with daylight-saving time,” claims Global Economics. “The construction industry also merits more daylight as the sector is inclined to early starts. Likewise, seasonal businesses can capitalize on the time transition and raise their sales.”
We all know that sunshine is the best medicine. Could it also be a good marketing strategy? An additional hour of sunlight could give a small business that extra boost or that struggling company an opportunity to make a sale to carry it through the next quarter or pay cycle. As an organization that promotes in-person interactions, more sunlight may mean more time to connect with other humans. In the words of poet and novelist Roman Payne, “O, Sunlight! The most precious gold to be found on Earth!”