SUNDAY trading laws should be “clarified” with a new law in 2014 that will get rid of the many different rules that apply across the country and even in neighbouring communes.
Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called for the law to reorganise Sunday trading but said the principle of a “day of rest” should be the rule, rather than the exception, to preserve families’ social lives.
Speaking after receiving a report on Sunday working by former La Poste boss Jean-Paul Bailly, Mr Ayrault said there was so much confusion that the laws had become incomprehensible, unequal and difficult to apply.
At present, shops run by a sole trader can open on Sundays and supermarkets and small groceries can open on Sunday mornings until 13.00.
However, the law also allows hotels and restaurants, petrol stations, furniture shops (but not DIY stores), florists, fishmongers and newsagents, to open. Other traders in tourist areas can open but a 2009 law by the Sarkozy government extended this to neighbouring areas and Ayrault believes this made the situation even more chaotic.
DIY stores Leroy-Merlin and Castorama challenged the present law, which they say is unjust but they have been under increasing attack themselves from union-backed challenges to their permissions to open. Luxury stores on the Champs Elysées have also been targeted.
Mr Bailly has called for a new start, but under instruction from Mr Ayrault, stopped short of calling for liberalisation. He did not propose extending Sunday opening to DIY and luxury shops and queried the rationale for the present exception that allowed furniture stores to open.
He has, however, suggested increasing the number of days that mayors can authorise local Sunday opening and this could rise from the present five to 10 or 12. Sunday working will be voluntary and paid as overtime, he said.