BTS ACTION COMMERCIALE / SESSION 2002 (Groupement 1)

TIME-SAVING SERVICES FIND A MARKET IN BOOM TIMES

Après avoir lu attentivement le texte, vous traduirez en français le passage qui va de la ligne 1 "house prices and sales of Mercedes cars " à la ligne 11 " may be worth paying for."

House prices and sales of Mercedes car are not the only things to have experienced strong growth in recent years. The services sector has also been a major beneficiary of the boom and the changing consumer habits that have accompanied it.

As people earn more, work harder and find themselves with less time for daily chores, they are inclined to pay others to do the cooking, cleaning or catering. And a rash of firms has sprung up to meet the demand.

Offering everything from nail bars to new age therapies, many are geared to meet the needs of the estimated 45 per cent of households where both partners work outside the home. For the "cash-rich and time-poor", saving money is no longer the top priority. Instead, time has become the more precious commodity and anything that provides more of it may be worth paying for.

Many of the ideas behind the newer service companies have been imported, or brought back, from that bastion of consumer culture, the United States. But Irish companies have also been quick to spot and adapt to changing needs, particularly in areas such as food.

With people spending less time sweating over a kitchen stove - research indicates people now spend an average of 20 minutes preparing meals and this is expected to fall to 10 minutes - the demand for convenience meals has grown.

The huge increase in forecourt retailing, which allows consumers to buy food and petrol under one roof, the growing amount of supermarket space devoted to ready-made meals and the rise in the number of convenience stores such as Spar and Centra are part of the response.

"We're in a convenience age", says Mr Frank Murphy, financial director of Superquinn, which has been quick to embrace change.

To make life easier for the consumer, Superquinn has introduced Internet shopping - also offered by rival Tesco, supermarket banking and self-scanning in certain stores.

The Irish times, July 20, 2001
(324 words)

HEADING FOR THE 24-HOUR BUSINESS DAY

At 1:30 on a Wednesday morning, shoppers prowl the aisles of a Virginia Wal-Mart. "We like to shop this late," they say. "you don't have to worry about anybody."

Across the country, people are paying bills, planning trips and buying and selling stock on the Internet. "Compared to Europe, the U.S. is miles ahead in mining the economic value of time," said L. Michael Hager, director of the International Development Law Institute in Rome, who studies time as an economic resource.

Actually in the USA there are fewer legal restrictions on business hours than in Europe. And in addition, the Internet has opened up all kinds of possibilities for 24-hour activity.

Mr Sindelar, the Kinko night manager, put it this way: "The United States is not used to waiting. In Europe, they queue up. Here, they don't.

"We're in a world that almost never stops. People hardly ever sleep." During this 11:30 p.m.-to-9 a.m. shift, he said, about 100 to 300 people will pass through - people wanting everything from birth announcements to funeral programs. "Everyone's under an enormous amount of stress and strain," he said. People used to wait for what they wanted, "but that attitude 's changed."

Adapted from The Washington Post, November 13, 1997

Répondez en anglais aux questions suivantes en rédigeant vos deux réponses.

1. What are the positive and negative aspects of the 24-hour business day for firms and consumers ? Justify your answer with elements from the above article. (100 words at least, 5 points)

2. Considering your own professional field, do you think that the 24-hour business day is an improvement or not for employees and workers ? Justify your opinion. (100 words at least, 5 points)

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