France tries to embrace Sunday shopping

Global Business

The French economy hasn’t sparkled for some time. But the lights of the Champs Elysees, the French version of Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, still draw the crowds keen on some weekend Christmas shopping. 

Many stores open on Sundays during the festive season, despite being restricted to just five Sundays per year.

Desperate to boost an economy saddled with an unemployment rate of more than 10 percent, the government wants to take those shopping shackles off.

France tries to embrace Sunday shopping

The French economy hasn't sparkled for some time. But the lights of the Champs Elysees, the French version of Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, still draw the crowds keen on some weekend Christmas shopping.

“I believe that a law which allows Sunday trading where it makes sense, in a very pragmatic way, is a good thing because it will allow French men and women without jobs and who need money to live and benefit from a society that is also a leisure and family society,” French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron said.

With the plan in effect, stores across France would open on up to 12 Sundays a year without needing to get permission. Those in tourist hotspots like Paris could also open throughout the week until midnight.

Opponents claim the move would simply spread sales across the week rather than boosting them, and that it would lead to worker exploitation — even though they’d have to be paid more.

Shoppers in central Paris saw both sides. There have been mixed reviews on whether store workers would like to work on Sunday, and the convenience for families of opening Sundays.

France isn’t the only country that keeps Sunday shopping free. In Germany, only shops in the capital, Berlin, are allowed to open on Sundays — and only eight times a year. It’s similar in Spain, and even the U.K. regulates Sunday trading hours.

But in downtown Washington, D.C., there was no question of stallholders shutting up shop on a Sunday in the run-up to Christmas.

China, like the U.S. is more deregulated.

In France, protests have erupted over the reform package that included opening up the legal profession and transportation to more competition. The French Parliament will debate the plan early next year.