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 and 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 could purchase only until 2 PM. As a general overview, there were 37 Sundays with the trading ban in 2019 and 45 Sundays in 2020. 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 behalf and for their benefit. Moreover, online shopping is not restricted, 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 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.
Restrictions implemented on Sunday trade strongly polarizes Polish consumers. Undeniably the group of strong opponents is significantly larger than the group of Sunday trade ban supporters. With the trading ban implementation, customers had to change their habits and get used to doing most of their shopping on Saturdays. After implementing the Sunday trade ban, most customers agreed that they have more time for themselves and their families. Retail store employees also share this opinion.
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 its implementation, and no further modifications to it are expected. In 2020, there has been a slight decline in retail sales due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. However, despite all these inconveniences, the retail market seems to remain in relatively good condition.
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