History of Daylight Saving Time

Daylight Saving Time (DST) begins at 2:00 a.m. this Sunday, March 10. At this time, we will set the clocks forward, losing an hour an hour of sleep, but gaining an hour of sunlight the next evening.

DST was initially introduced during World War I as an attempt to conserve energy. It was reinstated during World War II for the same reason. Until the 1960’s, it was practiced by some states, but there was no federally regulated date for changing the clocks. DST became the national standard in 1966, when the federal government mandated that the entire country observe the time change. Now, every state changes the clocks on the same day, except Arizona and Hawaii which opt out of DST entirely.

The rationale for DST is to conserve energy by extending daylight later in the day, when people will be home and able to enjoy sunlight. Since the 1970’s, studies have shown that DST has little to no effect on energy usage.  However, DST maximizes the number of daylight hours that people can enjoy after a typical 9-5 work day. Some regions of the country like this so much that several states including Florida and California have proposed legislation to make DST a permanent time change.

Daylight Saving Time and Farming

It is a widely accepted myth that DST was created to benefit farmers, providing longer hours to work outdoors. In fact, the agriculture industry lobbied against DST as far back as 1919. The loss of the early morning daylight has negative effects on the typical farming operation such as changing the milking schedule on a dairy farm. Changing a cow’s daily milking routine by just an hour can have detrimental effects on overall milk production. 

Benefits of Daylight Saving on Businesses

While DST may be a strain on the agriculture industry, it has a more positive impact on the retail industry. With more daylight hours after work and school to shop, stores may benefit from the time change. People also tend to spend more time participating in outdoor activities, such as outdoor sports, hiking, and barbeque. In fact, according to the history channel, candy, golf, and barbeque are the three main lobby groups that have supported DST over the years. While golf and barbeque seem to go hand in hand with longer daylight hours, it is difficult to see a correlation between candy sales and daylight. In the 1980’s, the candy industry lobbied heavily to extend DST past Halloween. The rationale was with more sunlight for trick-or-treating, the candy industry expected an increase in candy sales. Their lobbying efforts eventually proved successful, with DST being extending through the first Sunday in November.

Impact of Daylight Savings Time on Many Industries

In conclusion, though the clocks may change by just one hour, DST influences many industries. Franchises and restaurant owners may extend their evening hours to accommodate more customers. Construction companies may need to shift their hours or expand their workforce to take advantage of the extra hours of sunlight. This year, as you change the clocks and look forward to eight months of extra sunlight, consider how your business may be affected by the time change, and how you can use DST to your advantage.