Three major grocery chains in Northern Virginia yesterday rearranged their shopping hours for the second time in three days - this time in response to the hundred of calls from angry shoppers who work during the day.

Spokesmen for Safeway, Giant Food, and Grand Union stores all said they received complaints that their new store hours, announced Saturday after Virginia Gov. Mills E. Godwin limited retail stores to a 40-hour week, called for closing their doors at 6 p.m. on weekdays.

"We had a tremendous number of calls," reported Barry Scher, director of communications for Giant Food. "We had at least 200 early this morning, and we finally just stopped counting."

Giant Food stores now will be open until 8 p.m. five days a week during the energy crisis. Safeway will stay open until 8 p.m. six days, and Grand Union's door will be open until 8 p.m. two days in the state.

A spokeswoman for Grand Union said that the original decision on reduced hours was made "in a hurry" Saturday.

"We were under as much confusion as anybody else. We've never been through this before," the spokeswoman said.

Department store and shopping centre officials said yesterday they, too were forced to decide on their operating hours within a short period of time over the weekend and had to contend with telephones that rang constantly with calls from persons wanting information as well as with the usual customer queries.

"Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday sales are all roughly the same for us," said Martha Payne of Woodward and Lothrop. "The store decided to close Tuesday because it just seemed like a good day . . . we just didn't have time to be terribly scientific." She said that during the weekend calls were made to their competitors to find out what hours they intended to operate.

Payne said it minimizes customer inconvenience and confusion if the shopper "doesn't have to make six trips because all the stores are open at different hours." It also helps conserve gasoline, she added.

Stanley Jaffe, general manager of the Tysons Corner Shopping Center, noted that his facility chose to close Tuesday in Virginia, but added, "You can flip a coin as to which you want to close, Tuesday or Wednesday." Those days are the slowest shopping days, and Saturday is always the busiest, he said.

Bill Bowles, Arlington showroom manager for Best Products, said his store does from 30 per cent to 35 per cent of its weekly business on Saturdays, and from 10 per cent to 15 per cent on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Best Products' Arlington store is closed Wednesday, while it Falls Church store is closed today.

William C. Detwiller, president of Garfinckel's, said it is important "to keep an eye on what's going on . . . you have to be careful you're not sitting alone."

If three of the four major stores at Springfield Mail closed one day and the fourth stayed open, it would be a "disaster" for the fourth store both in terms of business and energy conservation, Detweler said.

Not all store managers were happy with the hours set by shopping mall executives.

Phyllis Frier, district manager of Beyda's women's clothing shop at Tysons Corner, noted that the mall is closed Tuesday.

"But Monday is the lighter day for me not Tuesday," Frier said. "And I'm losing a lot of my usual lunch hour traffic from businesswomen." She said it wouldn't be feastible for her to stay open if the majority of the stores closed. She complained to the management, but to no avail, she said.

"I'm just a little guy," she said.

In the case of Safeway, its management decided to close Sundays because the stores have been operating on Sundays less than two years, according to spokesman Tony Statom.

"You cut out to the one you last change," Statom said.