German court curbs Sunday shopping in Berlin

2nd December 2009, Comments 0 comments

German shops are currently authorised to open four Sundays per year, with each of the country's 16 states allowed to select its own dates.

Berlin -- Germany's highest court on Tuesday struck down rules allowing shops in Berlin to open all four Sundays before Christmas as unconstitutional, handing churches a partial victory.

German shops are authorised to open four Sundays per year, with each of the country's 16 states or Laender allowed to select its own dates.

But in 2006 the city-state of Berlin had obtained the right to allow store openings 10 Sundays per year, including the four Advent Sundays leading up to Christmas on December 25, a particularly festive period in the country.

Catholic and Protestant churches appealed the ruling based on a constitutional clause that designated Sundays and holidays as "days of rest and spiritual elevation."

On Tuesday, the federal constitutional court in the western city of Karlsruhe upheld that position in part and banned the opening of stores for four Sundays in a row.

The services trade union Verdi welcomed the ruling "with relief and joy" as a boon to shopworkers as well as "their families and social surroundings."

The retail trade federation HDE highlighted meanwhile that the court had not overturned the general principle of Sunday store openings.

That was particularly important in Berlin, HDE president Stefan Genth noted, because tourists visiting the capital wanted the freedom to shop at their convenience.

The court also allowed for store openings on several consecutive Sundays "for reasons of particular importance" that were not defined, and for limited hours.


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