Italy Government Drafts Bill To Close Shops On Sunday

The draft bill shall repeal the law that in 2012 had fully liberalized shop opening times

Luigi Di Maio, minister of Economic Development and Labour and deputy prime minister, declared that the Italian government will introduce within a year a law providing for the closure of shops on Sunday.

“Traders are asking us this. They are family men and women, business owners who justifiably remark that, if they are in direct competition with shopping malls from Monday to Sunday, they won’t be able to see their children any more”, the Five Star Movement leader commented to plead his case.

Rotation mechanism and exemptions

However, restrictions would not apply to all the shops, as the regulation provides for a rotation mechanism by which 25 percent of the stores would still be allowed to open. Exemptions during peak times like Christmas are also to be introduced.

The draft bill shall repeal the law promulgated by the Mario Monti technocratic goverment that, in 2012, had fully liberalized shop opening times.

Reactions

Reactions to Di Maio’s proposal have been mixed, even within the same majority. For example, minister of Agricolture Gian Marco Centinaio drew a clear line: “we cannot stop Sunday opening in the tourist cities, especially in the catering and hotel sectors. I have immediately requested an explanation, as I cannot figure out how in those realities everything stays locked. We can discuss about a possible weekly closing day, not necessarily on Sunday, otherwise tourism will suffer.”

The Northern League leader and Interior minister Matteo Salvini was more open to the idea: “Sunday is when dads can be dads and mothers can be mothers. It is a sacrosanct right, and if it requires a law we will do it.”

The Association of Large Retailers Federdistribuzione and the National Union of Consumers, however, stress the economic and labour dangers of this law, pointing out that, on average, about 12 million people shop in traditional trade on Sunday, so there could be an estimated 50 thousand job losses. Confesercenti, the mayor association of SMEs, takes an opposing view, as the proposal is regarded as “an important and reasonable first step in rediscussing the role of the small business sector.”