ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The Monday after the U.S. springs forward for daylight saving time (DST) has many Americans reaching for more caffeine as they adjust to losing an hour of sleep over the weekend, and some members of Congress want to help them either by moving to year-round daylight saving time or by keeping standard time year-round. But for the convenience retailing industry, the extra hour of daylight is a boost for business.
That’s what Lyle Beckwith, NACS senior vice president of government relations, shared in testimony last week before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce’s hearing, “Changing Times: Revisiting Spring Forward, Fall Back.”
Beckwith was one of three witnesses who testified at the hearing and the only one representing the convenience retail industry. Beckwith testified in support of keeping the time changes as they are.
“The bottom line is that daylight saving time is good for business and commerce across the United States, and our industry urges you to keep it in place,” said Beckwith.
“Switching between daylight saving time and standard time is, of course, a balancing act. None of us can change how much sunlight there is in a given day—not even in the winter when the days get shorter—and it can negatively impact our plans and state of mind,” Beckwith said.
“There are many benefits to having more time when it is light in the afternoon and early evening. These include increasing economic activity as well as reducing motor vehicle accidents. But these benefits have always been weighed against concerns that we should not have kids going to school in the dark. It is the balancing between those various interests that led us to the longstanding policy of switching our clocks in the spring and fall to take the most advantage we can of the daylight we have at different times of the year.”
Beckwith said that the convenience retailing industry has consistently found that commerce increases when the nation moves to DST. C-stores log increased spending when daylight hours are shifted to later in the day through daylight saving time.
“The bottom line is there are many benefits to daylight saving time. In fact, it would be more appropriately referred to as ‘daylight optimization time.’ The idea of switching our clocks is that we need to maximize the light we have at all times of the year,” said Beckwith.
The other witnesses at last week’s hearing included Steve Calandrillo, professor of law from University of Washington School of Law, who testified in support of year-round DST; and Dr. Beth Malow, professor neurology and pediatrics, director, Vanderbilt Sleep Division at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, who testified against time changes all together and staying in standard time.
Yesterday, most of the United States set clocks one hour ahead of standard time or “spring forward.” The Uniform Time Act of 1966 established that DST would occur from the first Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October. Since 1966, Congress has amended the laws regarding DST several time, including a temporary year-round adoption during World War II and the 1973 Oil Embargo. Most recently, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 extended DST by about four weeks from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November.
While states can currently choose to follow standard time year-round upon action by their state legislature, states wanting to observe DST all year need either a waiver from Congress or approval from the Department of Transportation.
Hawaii and most of Arizona do not observe DST. While over 25 states have passed legislation or resolutions to provide for year-round DST, with another four states considering similar bills this year, federal legislation is needed to allow them to adopt year-round DST.
There are currently two House bills (H.R. 69 and H.R. 1876) that would make DST permanent in the United States and three House bills (H.R. 214, H.R. 5826, and H.R. 5906), which would allow states to elect to observe DST year-round.