4Liberty. Retail Opening Hours in Europe: Regulation That Fails

Regulation of retail opening hours is applicable in 14 out of 30 European countries. The range of the regulation varies widely across the countries, as evidenced by a variety of exemptions. This suggests that countries that regulate shop opening hours are confronted with the interests of workers, consumers, and business.

There are signs that bans fail to achieve their objectives: a number of European countries have gone through deregulation. For example, in 2016, in response to huge resistance from consumers, Hungary lifted the prohibition to work on Sundays

Finland has also revoked a ban in order to meet the interests of consumers. An important argument was that the neighboring Sweden did not apply any restrictions on working hours and received a lot off Finnish buyers on weekends. This led to reduced competitiveness of retail trade in Finland.

Therefore, it is expected that lifting restrictions will stimulate the economy and eliminate unfair distortions of competition between shops and e-commerce.

In addition to these countries, Sweden and Malta have removed the prohibition on Sunday trading too.

The table provides information on the regulation of shop opening hours in 30 European countries. The information is based on Euro Commerce data collected in March 2017 and updated for May 2018.