Debate about opening times Shop on Sundays until Christmas?
Status: 19.06.2021 2:58 p.m.
Brick-and-mortar retail suffered a lot in the pandemic, while online retailing gained tremendously. DIW, Städtebund and the trade association HDE are now calling for more flexible opening times to help stimulate the economy. The union ver.di warns. The President of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), Marcel Fratzscher, calls for opening hours to be relaxed in view of the difficult situation of many retailers. “A liberalization of the shop opening times is urgently required so that the stationary retail trade can assert itself in the competition against the online trade and secure jobs,” said Fratzscher to the “Handelsblatt”.
Flexibility required until the end of the year
The economist stood by the side of the trade association HDE. He had suggested leaving the shops open on Sundays at least until the end of the year. This gives retailers the chance to make up at least part of the sales lost during the lockdowns and would also be a signal to people that the city centers are open again. In addition, there should be more reliable rules for a legally secure occasional Sunday opening.
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The Association of Towns and Municipalities also spoke out in favor of it. “We now have to do everything we can to ensure that our inner cities and town centers do not become deserted,” said managing director Gerd Landsberg to the “Handelsblatt”. “It would be a positive signal to allow additional Sunday opening hours.” Landsberg referred to the threatening situation of the trade and the danger for hundreds of thousands of jobs.
“Small but important signal”
Over 100,000 retail stores could close or not open at all, Landsberg said. This would put almost 500,000 jobs at stake. The online trade, on the other hand, was open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and was able to increase its sales to over 72 billion euros last year due to the pandemic. Additional Sunday opening hours would therefore be “a small but important signal that the city centers and town centers have a future”.
“Development cannot be reversed”
Fratzscher explained: “Due to the pandemic, there was a massive shift towards online trading, which will not be completely reversed even after the pandemic.” However, fair competitive conditions did not mean that people could shop online 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but stationary retail trade had a “tight corset” and had to be closed on Sundays.
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“Instead of sanctions or charges for online trading, politics should make stationary retailing more attractive,” said Fratzscher. In addition to more flexible shopping times, this also includes modern urban concepts that make inner cities more attractive again. “This not only has an immediate economic value, it is also very important from a social and societal perspective that people meet and come into contact with one another.”
Ver.di sees “general attack”
The FDP already supported the HDE’s advance as a suitable economic aid for the retail sector. The trade union ver.di, on the other hand, rejected him as an overly short-sighted “general attack on the trade workers, their families, but also on the Basic Law”.
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