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Food shops ignore Sunday trade law

Newspaper finds evidence of several big-name supermarkets breaking the law by staying open all day on Sundays

MANY supermarkets and convenience stores are breaking the new law on Sunday trading by staying open all day, a newspaper investigation has found.

Le Parisien found small local food shops (superettes) in Paris belonging to chains including Carrefour, Franprix and Monoprix serving customers until as late as 22.00 on Sundays.

Since last August, shops in France have been allowed to serve customers until 13.00 on Sunday afternoons - an hour later than before. Retailers in areas classified as tourist zones and family-run corner shops are the only ones that can open all day.

A spokesman for the CFTC trade union said shops were taking advantage of the confused rules on what counts as a tourist zone.

He said the problem of illegal late opening had been growing since last November and shops were putting pressure on workers to accept Sunday shifts with no increase in their hourly wage.

The owner of a Franprix mini-market in Paris's 11th arrondissement told Le Parisien: "We're supposed to close the doors at 13.00 but our group's policy is to open all day on Sunday. I've been working here for a year and I've never been stopped.

"Sundays bring in an extra 10-15% in revenue. It gets very busy from 18.00. People like proximity and being able to do their shopping when it suits them."

A Carrefour City manager, whose shop stays open until 21.00, said the students who took the Sunday shifts appreciated the extra money.

According to Paris trading standards, 30 fines were handed out last year for illegal Sunday opening. Shops caught ignoring the rules face a penalty of up to €7,500 per employee.

However, Le Parisien says legal action against the supermarket chains themselves is difficult, because the outlets tend to be independently run franchises.

Related stories:
Slow start to new Sunday trade plan

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