Poland introduces gradual Sunday trading ban

Poland introduces gradual Sunday trading ban

For the first time since the collapse of communism, Poland is restricting trading on Sunday for (larger) retail players. The ban is being introduced gradually, but stirs up emotions among Polish consumers, traders and employees.


Ban on Sunday shopping

Poland, traditionally one of the most devout Catholic countries in Europe, is putting into effect a law which will gradually ban all commercial trading on Sundays. Employees deserve quality time with family and friends, says the trade union Solidarity, which found support for its proposal in predominantly Catholic and conservative circles.


The new law is not without its adversaries, however. Liberal opposition parties fear for a loss of jobs, especially among students who are only free to work on weekends. The Alliance of Trade Unions similarly argues that employees will see their workload increase dramatically on Fridays and Saturdays.


Larger players affected

The ban on Sunday openings is likely to affect especially larger and foreign retail players, who will see a drain on their revenues in increasingly deserted shopping malls on the edges of town. There will be time to come up with effective counter-strategies, however, since the ban itself will be implemented gradually, with an initial cut-back of four to two shopping Sundays per month in 2018, to one in 2019 and, finally, to none at all in 2020.


Whether it will come to a complete ban is unsure, given the political controversy in Poland and the general trend in Europe towards less rather than more restrictions on commercial trading. Another ex-communist country may be a telling case in any respect: Hungary imposed a ban on Sunday trading in 2015 which was abandoned within the same year. It is unlikely that the Poles, the second most hard-working people in Europe, will give up their Sunday shopping without a fight.