by Eva Forinyak
with friendly assistance of Invest in Germany
It sounds curious, and it is curious: the German word “Ladenschlussgesetz“ stands for an old, still valid law (from the year 1956) which regulates shopping hours in the country. According to this law stores can’t be open seven days a week and 24 hours a day; what’s more: they MUST close. This regulation doesn’t amuse a lot of German shoppers (excluding the 2.7 million sales personal who would have to work during this time) and annoys even more shop owners who have been fighting against this law fiercely in the last decades.
And the shop owners have been making inroads. After having won extended shopping hours first on Thursdays and Saturdays (1989) then on weekdays till 8 pm (1996), now the department store chain Kaufhof challenged the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe. According to their argument the law was unfair because it provides an advantage for gas stations and stores in train stations and airports, which are allowed to be open whenever they wish to.
It’s clear that the June 9th decision of the Federal Court was an eagerly awaited one. The decision doesn’t yet solve the problem, but it gives shop owners and shoppers hope. The highest court of the country has ruled that the law was constitutional. Nonetheless, the Federal Government could give the German Federal States the legal power to regulate shopping hours in their states individually.
This is a small but very important step on the long way to being able to shop in Germany whenever you want. Consuming without restrictions would not only please Germans, but also foreigners who have been enjoying the step-by-step liberalization of shopping hours over the years, crossing borders to take advantage of the lowest consumer prizes in Europe.
05/06 2004 June by Eva Forinyak from Invest in Germany GmbH, now: Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI)
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