Sunday opening to be permitted year round from 2010
Small stores get minor additional relaxations on opening hours
The main government parties have reached agreement on the liberation of store opening hours. The minister responsible, Labour Minister Tarja Cronberg (Greens), reported on Wednesday in a statement in conjunction with a party ministerial reshuffle that the matter has been agreed in government discussions and the bill to be put before Parliament is now being translated.
The matter was first reported by YLE TV-News.
According to Cronberg, the deal follows an agreement on opening hours worked out last November between the retail sector and sales staff, according to which shops will be able to remain open on Sundays all year around from 12:00-18:00, with the exception of public holidays.
During the pre-Christmas season in November and December shops may if they so wish be open from 12:00-21:00 on Sundays.
Smaller stores with a floor-area of 400 square metres or less can trade around the clock if they wish.
If Parliament approves the amendments in the autumn, the new relaxed opening hours could come into effect from the beginning of 2010.
Apparently there were moves within the Centre Party and the Greens to reduce the number of hours shops could be open on Sundays to four (12:00-16:00), but these were resisted by the retailers, the sales staff, and by the National Coalition Party.
Another bone of contention was the position of speciality stores in shopping malls, where the rules oblige all outlets to be open at the same time.
The stores and the Federation of Finnish Enterprises objected to the "forced" opening on Sundays, and the new law would give them a means of getting around the mandatory opening rules.
According to information reaching Helsingin Sanomat, speciality stores in this category would be allowed to close on one day of the week, with the choice of day up to them. They could, for instance, decide to shut up shop on one of the quieter early days of the shopping week.
Another possible change with the new legislation might be that Christmas Eve would be altogether off-limits for shopping, with the sole exception of some small gas station shops.
Hitherto, Finland has had a rather mixed arrangement for Sunday opening, with stores allowed to open on Sundays during the summer months and in the run-up to Christmas.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Union narrowly agrees to year-round Sunday trading (14.11.2008)
Retailers edge closer to regular Sunday opening in ministry proposals (2.6.2005)
Federation of Finnish Enterprises