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Sunday trading law marks one year

Relaxed opening hours on Sunday in certain areas has had limited effect

RELAXED Sunday trading laws have had a limited effect one year after they first came into practice.

The changes were originally planned to give more flexibility to shops and boost the economy, but opposition from traditionalists both inside and outside the government led to proposals being watered down.

As a result, only shops in tourist zones have been able to open all day on Sunday, while food shops outside of these areas were allowed to open until 13.00.

Other stores in areas with a history of Sunday opening, essentially those flouting the old law, have been allowed to apply to become périmètres d'usage de consommation exceptionnel - puce.

Many communes have been reluctant to create tourist zones or puce to enable the new laws to come into effect.

In Paris, large stores such as Galeries Lafayette and Printemps have had their applications to extend their opening hours turned down by the local authority.

CFDT union spokesman Aline Levron criticised the difference in rights for workers in tourist zones, who only receive a day off in lieu, and those in a puce who have agreements over higher wages for working Sunday.

She said employers were ignoring the law which stipulates Sunday working should be voluntary.

Larger stores have complained that the extra pay for employees has limited the profits from opening, or pushed them into making losses from a reduced Sunday clientele.

In Nice, where the local mairie has extended its tourist zone to cover its town centre, its largest shopping centre has remained closed.

An official report from a government committee monitoring the effect of the law is not due out until October.

Photo: ATOUT France - Jean-François Tripelon-Jarry

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