Sunday trading ban in Poland - Statistics & Facts

The Sunday trading ban took effect in Poland on March 1, 2018. It is being implemented gradually over a three-year period. In 2018 shops were closed on Sundays with two monthly exceptions: the first and the last Sunday of each month. In 2019, only one Sunday per month was excluded from the ban, i.e. the last Sunday of each month as well as selected Sundays before Christmas and the one before Easter. From 2020 onward the law allowed for Sunday shopping on Sundays preceding Christmas, one Sunday before Easter and the last Sunday of January, April, June, and August of each calendar year. On Christmas Eve and Easter Saturday (preceding Easter), buyers were able to purchase only until 2 PM. As a general overview, in 2019 there were 37 Sundays with the trading ban and in 2020, 45 Sundays. In 2021 customers won’t be able to do their shopping for 45 Sundays of the year.

There are 32 exceptions to the ban. On Sundays post offices, gas stations, pharmacies, stores at airports, train stations and hotels can all operate. There is also an exception for shops that are run solely by the owner/entrepreneur. In order to keep them open on Sundays, the owners are obligated to complete sales on their own behalf and for their own benefit. Moreover, online shopping is not restricted in any way, which is also a huge opportunity for the e-commerce market.

For many years Poles could shop on Sundays. However, the reason behind the Sunday trading ban was to give workers more time with their families and to support small stores. Nonetheless, the new law raised many questions not only among customers but also traders. Some entrepreneurs see the new law as an opportunity, but many see it as a threat.

Retail sales overview

Many stores have extended their operating hours on trading days. A greater number of customers has been recorded on Friday and Saturday evenings in shopping malls and in food stores. Many stores have developed their online platforms for goods distribution on Sundays. Even gas stations are expanding the sales offer available in their stores. Supermarkets and discount stores are offering significant reductions in prices on Thursdays and Fridays. According to the Polish Chamber of Commerce, small format stores sales rose annually by 10 percent in July, 6 percent in August and 5.9 percent in September 2020. This growth is even bigger than growth in 2017, when sales increased by 3.3 percent, 8.8 percent and 2.7 percent in the same months respectively. Despite the increase in sales of small stores, their number in Poland has decreased since 2018, while the number of discount stores and supermarkets has increased during this period.

Customers behavior

What about the customers? Are they happy or pleased with these changes? Restrictions implemented on Sunday trade strongly polarizes Polish consumers. Undeniably the group of strong opponents is significantly bigger than the group of Sunday trade ban supporters. With the trading ban implementation, customers not only had to change their habits, but also get used to doing most of their shopping on Saturdays. Most customers agreed that after implementing the Sunday trade ban they have more time for themselves and their families. This opinion is also shared by retail store employees.

After many months, the ban on Sunday trade seems to be less effective than it was anticipated at the start, although the result of the trade restrictions has not yet been definitively determined. Moreover, the law remains very controversial and is a topic of continued debate since the time of its implementation and no further modifications to it are expected. In 2020, there has been, a slight decline in retail sales, but the main reason may be the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but in overall despite all these inconveniences, the retail market seems to remain in quite good condition.

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Sunday trading ban in Poland

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