Milan is the principal commercial center, followed by Turin, Genoa, Naples, and Rome. Genoa, the chief port of entry for Milan and Turin, handles about one-third of Italy's trade; Naples is the principal entrepôt for central and southern Italy. Adriatic as well as Middle Eastern trade is carried through Ancona, Bari, and Brindisi. Although small retail units predominate, department stores and supermarkets are playing an increasingly important role. In 2000, Italy ranked second in Europe in franchise business operations with about 562 companies and over 31,400 franchises.
Advertising in all forms is well developed, and the usual mass media (billboards, neon signs, newspapers and magazines, radio, cinema, and television) are used extensively. Market research is handled by over 100 firms.
Usual business hours in northern Italy are from 8 AM until noon and from 3 to 6 or 7 PM . In central and southern Italy, customary hours are 9 AM to 1 PM and 4 to 8 PM . In general, banking hours are 8:30 AM to 1:30 PM and 3 PM to 4 PM , Monday through Friday. Retail establishments are generally closed on Sundays.