In a week, Poland will close a loophole that allowed many large retail chains to escape the ban on Sunday trading by offering postal services.
Supermarket giants including Carrefour, Kaufland and Netto, which have exploited the exemption, have announced that they will no longer keep their stores open on Sundays.
As Poland’s Sunday shopping ban loophole closes, retailers consider new tricks
The trade ban, which requires shops to close on all but seven Sundays a year, was introduced in 2018. There are, however, a number of exemptions, including for businesses that offer postal services. This prompted many large chains to start offering such services to stay open.
This practice angered the Solidarity trade union, which initially proposed the trade ban with the support of the Catholic Church. He lobbied the government to close the loophole.
It finally happened last year, with President Andrzej Duda signing a law in October that will now require postal services to account for more than 40% of a given establishment’s income in order for it to remain open on Sunday. The new rules will come into effect on February 1.
In addition, the Ministry of Finance announced the obligation for companies wishing to continue to use the exemption to keep monthly sales records for each outlet separately, even when they have several in a chain.
Poland’s Sunday trading ban has hurt the small businesses it was meant to help
Among the 25 major companies to have taken advantage of the loophole are supermarkets Lidl, Auchan and Biedronka; the DIY stores Castorama and Leroy Merlin; and Poland’s largest network of bookstores, Empik. Many of them, however, have now said they will limit their openings.
A Kaufland spokeswoman, Maja Szewczyk, told TVN24 it would close its stores on Sundays, but warned that “if the competition continues to use solutions that allow trading seven days a week, our network could again be compelled to take similar measures”. .
Netto also confirmed that its 600 locations would only be open six days a week from February, as well as the seven allowed trading Sundays in the year, which in 2022 fall on January 30, April 10 and 24, June 26, August 28. , as well as December 11 and 18. Lidl and Biedronka have not commented on their plans, TVN reports.
Lidl becomes latest chain to exploit loophole of Poland’s Sunday trading ban
Meanwhile, Carrefour said it does not plan to keep its stores open on Sundays after the new rules take effect, but noted that its franchisees will be able to make their own decisions using other exemptions to the trade ban that will always be available.
Żabka, a large network of convenience stores that pioneered the postal service exemption and successfully argued its case in court, similarly said it would leave the decisions to its franchisees, who can always keep stores open on Sundays provided the owner or certain family members are behind the cash register.
With the new legislation, most of the original 32 exemptions will continue to apply. As before, specialty stores selling press, souvenirs or religious items, as well as some other businesses, including florists, pharmacies and gas stations, can remain open.
The newly introduced amendment also expands the list of family members who can work in shops on Sundays. Besides the spouse, the owner’s children, parents and in-laws, their siblings, grandchildren and grandparents will also be allowed to work.
The little frog that invades the shopping streets of Poland
Main image credit: Slawomir Kaminski / Agencja Gazeta
Maria Wilczek is deputy editor of Notes from Poland. She is a regular writer for The temperature, The Economist and Al Jazeera Englishand also featured in Foreign Police, European policy, The spectator and Gazeta Wyborcza.