Poland: New restrictions for trading outlets – but with many exceptions.
This rule ‒ known in Germany for decades ‒ is now being introduced in Poland where, since the 90s, all shops could set their own opening hours except for national holidays.
However, from 1 March until the end of this year trading will be allowed only on the first and last Sunday of any month, while in 2019 trading will be possible only on every last Sunday of the month. Starting from 2020, shops will be closed on Sundays. Even the smallest sales stands are considered as shops, and the prohibition also includes activity related to organising and preparing for trade, including warehousing tasks and the like.
But the list of exceptions from the above rule is also quite exhaustive. For example, Sunday trading will be allowed without limitations in the following outlets: petrol stations, railway stations, airports, on the Internet, press kiosks, souvenir shops, florists, pharmacies, sweet shops, bakeries and ice cream shops, as well as restaurants. Moreover, other small shops may be open as long as the shop owner stands behind the bar and does business.
Further exceptions from the Sunday trading prohibition concern commercial activities before Christmas and Easter, when trade turnover volume is usually the highest. In particular, trade will be allowed on the last two Sundays before Christmas and on Palm Sunday. Additional “trading Sundays” fall on the last Sunday in January, April, June and August.
All this means that the commercial sector faces a huge challenge and some organizational changes because hitherto the standard in most Polish cities has been a seven-day business week.
Violations may involve heavy fines.
However, the mandatory Sunday off in the trading sector leads to increased turnover in other sectors of the economy: instead of going shopping at the nearest mall on Sunday, Poles are starting to plan family trips out of town, and visiting restaurants and museums.
Source: Act of 10 January 2018 limiting trading on Sundays and holidays and on some other days (J.L. 2018, item 305)