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Sunday shopping

Sunday shopping refers to the ability of retailers to operate stores on Sundays, in countries where Christian tradition typically requires a "day of rest". Rules governing shopping hours, such as Sunday shopping, vary around the world but some European nations continue to ban Sunday shopping


  • 1Australia
  • 2Belgium
  • 3Canada
  • 4Germany
  • 5New Zealand
  • 6Republic Of Ireland
  • 7United Kingdom
  • 8United States
  • Australia

    The situation in Australia is not uniform, as each of its States and Territories has its own different laws. Historically, shops closed for the weekend on Saturday afternoons, with South Australia being the first state to allow Saturday afternoon opening. Most states now allow Sunday opening for up to seven hours a week, at least in metropolitan areas

    In Western Australia, voters were asked in a referendum held in February 2005: "Do you believe that the Western Australian community would benefit if trading hours in the Perth Metropolitan Area were extended to allow general retail shops to trade for 6 hours on Sunday?" This proposal was rejected by 59.56 per cent to 37.46 per cent

    In the state of Victoria shopping is allowed at any time, except for ANZAC Day morning, Good Friday and Christmas Day. Victoria is also famous for first introducing round the clock 36 hour shopping before Christmas, even if this fell on a Sunday. In Victoria Boxing Day is also one of the busiest days of the shopping year, and many stores are opened extended hours even if it falls on a Sunday


    Belgium has practically no trading on a Sunday. On certain Sundays throughout the year trading is allowed, although this typically only takes place in places with high tourism


    In 1982, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the Lord's Day Act. However, at that time, only the Canadian Bill of Rights existed. That document only protected existing Canadian rights. As a result, the Court noted that Canada was an overwhelmingly Christian country that had accepted Sunday closing laws for years. The Court determined that the Lord's Day Act did not force people to practise Christianity or stop practising their own religion

    However, later that year, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was introduced, ensuring freedom of conscience and religion, regardless of existing federal or provincial laws. On April 24, 1985 - the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Lord's Day Act violated Canadians' freedom of religion. The 1985 ruling examined the original purpose of the act. It found that the Christian value of keeping the Sabbath holy had been incorporated into a law that affected all Canadians, Christian or not. This law -- the Lord's Day Act -- prevented non-Christians from performing otherwise legal activities on Sundays. This was inconsistent with the Canadian charter


    In Germany, opening hours have long been restricted through the Ladenschlussgesetz. Traditionally, shops have closed for the weekend at 2 p.m. on a Saturday and 6:30 p.m. on weeknights, with opening until 4 p.m. on Saturday only allowed once a month, in what was known as the Langer Samstag, or 'long Saturday', but shops now may open until 8 p.m. from Monday to Saturday. In 2004, the Federal Constitutional Court ruled against lifting restrictions on Sunday opening, which is still confined to some small bakeries and convenience stores inside railway stations and airports. However, there are plans to let Land governments decide on opening times on weekdays instead of the federal government, although there is still strong resistance to Sunday shopping from churches and politicians. As many Land governments allowed shopping around the clock Monday to Saturday during the FIFA World Cup, many other Länder, like Bavaria, North Rhine Westphalia, Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, Lower Saxony, Berlin, Hamburg and others, will allow opening around the clock from Monday to Saturday after the summer break

    New Zealand

    New Zealand, which banned trading on Saturday and Sunday completely between 1945 and 1980, liberalised shopping hours in 1989. Shops may open at any time, with the exception of Good Friday, ANZAC Day and Christmas Day. However, outside the main cities, shops still close for the weekend on Saturday afternoons

    Republic Of Ireland

    There has been no recent legislation regarding Sunday trading in the Republic of Ireland, which is regulated by the Shops (Hours of Trading) Act 1938

    This Act confers on the responsible minister the right to control trading, and also lays down certain types of business which are exempt, i.e. types of business can open on Sundays, but only for the sale of certain items. However, major supermarket chains open their branches throughout the Republic on Sundays usually from 10:00 to 19:00 hours in the larger cities and from noon to 18:00 hours in the smaller centres

    United Kingdom

    Sunday trading in England and Wales was not generally permitted until 1994. This meant that shops such as department stores and supermarkets were not able to open legally. A number of specialist outlets were able to open legally, including garden centres, small "corner" or family run shops, and chemists

    An earlier attempt by Margaret Thatcher's government to allow Sunday shopping in 1986 was defeated in Parliament, with opposition coming from Conservative MPs who saw it as a threat to family life and church attendance, and Labour MPs who were concerned about workers' rights. This led to the formation of the Keep Sunday Special campaign, backed by church groups and USDAW, the trade union representing shop workers

    Several large outlets challenged the legal ruling in force before 1994 by opening on Sundays, and the eventual outcome was that large stores are now able to open for up to 6 hours on Sunday between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., in practice this means that they open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. or 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.. Supermarkets usually open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., whereas most other businesses open (and close) later. Christmas Day and Easter Sunday have been excluded as trading days. This applies even to garden centres, which earlier had been trading over Easter. Details of the changes to the legislation are included in the Sunday Trading Act 1994. In 2006, the government considered further relaxation of the permitted hours of business but decided that there was no consensus for change

    United States

    Many stores in the United States have reduced hours of operation on Sundays (most often 11 a.m. or noon to 5 or 6 p.m.), although the recent trend has led to expansion. A few local municipalities still prohibit Sunday shopping, and many others prohibit it until a certain time (most often noon or 1 p.m.), especially in regard to selling alcohol

    One of the last major areas to completely prohibit Sunday shopping is Bergen County, New Jersey. This area contains one of the largest and most popular commercial shopping cores of the New York metropolitan area (for example, one of three local Ikea stores is found here

    the store is the only one in the United States to be closed on Sunday). Ironically, the area is not considered to be particularly religious compared to the U.S. population at large; and it also has significant Jewish and Muslim populations whose observant members would not be celebrating the Sabbath on Sunday. But attempts to repeal the law have failed as many locals either like to keep the law on the books as a protest against the growing trend of increased Sunday shopping activity in American society or fear the potential increase of Sunday traffic on major local roads such as Rt. 4 or Rt. 17. Some local Orthodox Jews who are off both days of the weekend have complained about the law because it limits their ability to get shopping done on the weekend without having to travel to a neighboring county as religious beliefs prohibit shopping on Friday night or on Saturday before sunset, which in the summer can be right before most department stores and malls close.

    Some stores are synonymous with being always open on Sunday and holidays. Two examples are L. L. Bean in Freeport, Maine, and Meijer in the Midwest. L. L. Bean is open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day; and Meijer is open 364 days a year (closed Christmas), 24 hours a day

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