Summer hours in Gibraltar

Are a law unto themselves.

They start in June. When they start in June is another matter.

The other day I needed to go to the post offices in Gib, naturally, the one where you buy stamps to send mail to the UK is not the same one where you have to go to collect registered mail.

I checked on the website to see if there was any information about summer hours. No. Apart from the information that tells you what those hours are. That’s great, but I want to know when it starts. Second week in June? Is that from the 8th of June? The second Monday? The end of the second week or the start of it? Why not start at the beginning of June and make life simple?

Summer hours are this bizarre concept that means office workers can’t possibly work later than lunchtime and need to go home, eat, sleep, go to the beach or whatever else they do.

I mean, it’s a hard life in an air-conditioned office yes? Does my parter working on a construction site in the heat of the sun get summer hours? No. Although ironically our Spanish neighbour did when he was working on a local building firm. Instead of 8am-2pm and then 3-6pm, he worked from 7am-3pm.

But back to Gib. I arrived at the post office that sells stamps just after 2pm and asked when summer hours would be starting. ‘We’re on summer hours already,’ she beamed. ‘We close at 2.15.’

I glanced at the clock, nearly 2.15pm. Not much chance of me legging it round to the other post office to collect the registered mail when it’s ten minutes walk away.

All government offices do summer hours. Naturally, they don’t all do the same summer hours. A bit like they don’t all do the same hours anyway. Some open at 8.30, 8.45, 9.00 etc etc, and then closing time can be anywhere between 12 noon and 1pm. Some open in the afternoon and some don’t.

Nine to five? Forget it in Gibraltar.

The shops are the same, some take a lunch break, some don’t. Some work summer hours, some don’t. Businesses too.

And to complete the inconsistency, everyone embarks on their summer hours schedule at different dates. At some point in June.

In fact the only time to get anything done is between 10am-12noon.

Summer hours end in September. But don’t ask me when.

Confused? Me too, and I’ve been here five years.

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50 comments on “Summer hours in Gibraltar

  1. if it may help, i’d like you to know that you are not alone in this. for example: in rome barbershops don’t open on mondays, and food shops don’t open thursday afternoons. does this sound normal?

    yet, with grace, you have turned a pain-in-the-neck situation an entertaining read – well done :)


    • Lol! Thank you. But at least if you know you won’t get a haircut on Monday or you need to buy food before noon on Thursday, there is some consistency.

      Here there is none. Apart from the inconsistency.


  2. But this is brilliant. The Gibralter government or whatever they call themselves have missed a trick. Why not copyright the idea. They could then sell the idea to corporations who could more effectively plan their staffing. Peak hours between 10 and 12, in fact shops offices and businesses only need open between those hours. Less staff hours = less wages. Less lighting and heating, my God the shareholders could make a right killing if the CEO’s and bankers don’t get to it first.
    AND the great and good can spend less time with the grubby underclasses!

    Sorry hijacked again.


    • They do the peak hour thing anyway, and in Spain. Opening hours are invariably say (roughly) 9-1 or 8.30-12.15 or some other crazy combo. They do actually stay at their desks for a bit longer, and occasionally you can even raise someone on the ‘phone post 2pm. Normally of course you get a message telling you that you have called outside opening hours.

      Just ‘cos they aren’t available to the public doesn’t mean they aren’t grafting away in the background. Apparently. They just do somewhat less in summer.

      My 10-12 comment was because it was the only time you can – hopefully – reliably find somewhere open. Of course in the case of shops that are due to open at 10 it may well be 11 before they open…….

      Perhaps I should change that to 11-12? Oh, gosh, it’s 12.02 must dash, my window of opportunity is already disappearing…..


  3. Your British need for order and reason seems to be over-riding your understanding of how to engage with the good life…relax,enjoy,eat, sleep, love, swim…live!!! ;):) Would drive me nuts too!!! Great read. Thanks.


  4. I wish we had some “summer hours” here in the states.. Oh wait, we get them @ work.. Once a week we can get off work 2 hours early.. nice bit of a break..


    • When I had an office job, I was lucky if I ever left at a remotely civilised time, took a lunch break, etc etc. After years of that, I decided to turn in for 9, and leave at 5, and take a lunch break. Everyone was horrified. I looked outside and wondered why I was stuck in jail (money).

      But enjoy your break next week :)


  5. Bizarre! But to play Devil’s advocate – North Americans don’t ‘do’ summer hours – they work 365, and our pace is killing us. Stress-related ailments are an epidemic. So – maybe we should take a cue from Gib?? :)


      • Sorted literally not just mentally :D

        I do think the work culture in the US is a bit OTT. We had a mate from California who had to work two jobs and his woman worked just to make ends meet.

        Yet on the other hand, a pharmacist colleague of mine who was planning to emigrate to the US told me that if you put in a full week or month or something you could get a free day off!!

        I don’t know why we can’t get the work/life balance right. Well, I do know, but …it would be nice if it was different.


  6. Oh, my!!! I would be all in a tizzy trying to deal with something like that. How would you know when to go get things done? Hugs


    • I have been in a tizzy, still am!! Everywhere I go, I am now asking – are you working summer hours now, and if so, what are they?

      Only safe hours are 10-12noon – but hey if you are working that’s great isn’t it?


  7. Sounds similar to the Sunday trading laws. Over a certain square footage, shops can only trade for 6 hours, some open 10-4, some 10.30-4.30 and others 11-5. Small shops can open for as long as they like, but if it’s a small shop in a shopping centre, they are classed as part of the whole centre, so it has to abide by the square footage law. Even more complicated are the big shops, that will open their doors 10-5, but are not allowed to sell anything for an hour of that time.
    So, picture this: walk into one shop at 10am (10-4), buy something, walk out, walk straght into shop next door, take purchase to the till, sorry, can’t sell you it until 11am but we are open until 5pm.
    Then there’s the Christmas late nights, some shops in the centre open every night until 9/10pm, some only on Thursdays, some just until 7pm, others not at all.
    So it’s pot luck shopping.


    • I remember the old sunday trading thing! although I didn’t know/have forgotten the detail.

      The difference here is that this isn’t a legal issue, just a we’re changing our hours issue on whatever day in June for a few months.

      Spain has a similar Sunday shop thing though. They can open for x sundays in the year, so some – but not all – shops open on summer Sundays catering for holidaymakers. And sometimes they open on bank holidays and sometimes they don’t. Government offices on the other hand though are pretty consistent. Shut as often as possible.


  8. I like you have a sense of humour about it. From a distant perspective summer hours are quirky & local but the reality obviously tedious. Even in Sydney, things change and unless I want to visit a shop or whatever during core hours, I found it’s better to call first to check. Australia Post also has different approaches to parcels, some depending on the delivery method/address go to the post office, some to the delivery centre in different locations and different opening hours.


  9. Wow … I understand your confusion! Strange that a government thing, like the Post office, aren’t better organized with regards to having the hours clearly stated on their website. Here, you can’t get a hair-cut on a Monday either. Sundays certain stores are open certain hours, but when there’s a holiday — like Remembrance Day, then it’s really shut down … everything! In Quebec it was hard to tell whether it was holiday or not.
    Back home in Sweden, most people get 25 days vacation each year, and most people take 20 during the summer period … i.e. July. The month of July, more or less the entire country shuts down — it’s impossible to get a hold of anyone, and other countries complain about business stuff.


    • This no hair cuts on Monday is really funny!! I even rang the post office, and there was no answer so I left a message. No returned call of course :(

      The only real shutdown here is Easter and Christmas – Gib is Catholic.

      Spain shuts down in July. And August. :D


  10. Reminds me of when I lived in west Africa and business hours were completely arbitrary. Who knew when offices or shops were open. Definitely not during sieste, between noon and 3. I just went early or late and hoped for the best.


  11. In my area, a number of things are closed on Monday. I don’t like it but they need their day off too, I suppose. Glad to connect with you in Gibraltar… another place to visit on my bucket list. :-)


    • Thanks so much. I’ll add it to the stash (that’s a new one I don’t already have) and get round to posting about it one day. Loved your description of me as the odd one out on your list!!


  12. It’s island time!….each island apparently makes their own schedule-ish?
    Or it’s heat addled brains? (but it’s not the dog days of summer yet – or August)
    Here’s you can go into some place – like the post office or some shops – and there are people behind the counters – yet they don’t appear to be working or noticing the line out the door.
    (Maybe the zombies are already among us?)
    The German just yawns and says time to take another nap


    • Sometimes I wish we were an island, in reality rather than just mentality. But still, it wouldn’t be as easy to drive/walk across the frontier to Spain in that case.

      Spain is the best for queues, or rather non-queues. They don’t exist. There is just a swarm of people, and you have to walk in and ask ‘Quien es el ultimo?’ Very civilised. And then you just hang around where you want, inside outside, chat to your neighbour who’s also waiting to pay a bill (or whatever).

      Pippa says the German has the right idea.


  13. I have so so so so so so much to catch up with on your blogs, I have been kind of quiet on the blog world recently, and you have been very prolific with your posts, so now am way out of my depth in catching up. Suffice to say, interesting reading as always and lovely pics. In Scotland we have different public holidays from England, and also different public holidays in each town and yes, even village… it is very confusing here too. Although not different summer hours, just different public holidays. I will never catch up with all your writings now, but will attempt to keep up in future………hopefully!!


      • it is all pretty quiet in the wedding stakes here, but we have been spending the kids’ inheritance, a log cabin in the garden et al. A place to be separate from the house, and a place to muse, drink wine, eat good food and get away from the dreaded internet. Hence being so quiet. Also I must put your new blogs on my blog roll either on Diamonds or Marvin’s as I have to go through complicated loops to find the new WordPress ones. Usually I access through Blue’s blog, but you have some others which I still can’t find easily! There was a great deal in the Brit press recently about Gib, so of course I thought of you. To be honest I hadn’t realised Gib was quite sooooo small!! I knew from K, and his company work there, it wasn’t very big but the actual area of Gib shocked me!


        • A log cabin? Is that like a shed? :D

          Internet free days are good. I am having them too :)

          If you use this one, you can find the others on my pages above (my other blogs) or the sidebar. Not to worry though. Wish WP and Blogger were rather more sociable with each other. A bit like the olden days of Mac and Windows.

          I do occasionally write about how small Gib is. Although small is relative. Getting used to everything being ten minutes walk away means twenty minutes is sooooo farrrrr!!!


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