Shop Opening Hours Act evaluation: over 75% of businesses want Sunday trading

The majority of municipalities and businesses are now in favour of extensive Sunday trading. Only a very small proportion of traders open their doors on Sundays because contractual obligations or penalty clauses compel them to do so. In addition, there are many positive spin-offs for employees. These are the main developments highlighted by the evaluation of the Shop Opening Hours Act, which was presented to parliament by Henk Kamp, the Minister of Economic Affairs.

‘A large majority of shopkeepers want to stay open on Sunday,’ Mr Kamp explained. ‘It’s good for our economy and is viewed positively by customers and employees alike. The evaluation also indicates that at local level, municipalities are successfully balancing economic interests with the wish to keep Sunday as a day of rest. This all goes to show that the recent amendments to the Shop Opening Hours Act are working out well.’

No fewer than 79% of shopkeepers are currently in favour of Sunday trading, for three main reasons: boosting turnover, catering to their customers’ wishes, and keeping up with competitors who are also open on Sunday. Supermarkets are the only shops that make full use of the option to stay open on public holidays and Remembrance Day. Only 4% of all shopkeepers said they open on Sunday because they are required to do so by the terms of their contract.

The evaluation also shows that employees do not feel pressured into working on Sunday. Nine out of ten workers say they get paid a higher rate for Sunday working. Young people, in particular, regard this as an incentive. Employees who prefer not to work on Sunday do so for mainly social reasons.

The move to allow municipalities to decide on local shopping hours has been successful. Sunday trading can now be permitted by granting a general or individual exemption. When making their decision, the authorities almost always balance local economic interests against local concerns about preserving Sunday as a day of rest.

The amended Shop Opening Hours Act entered into force on 1 July 2013. Under the new legislation, conditions no longer apply to the granting of general and individual exemptions. Municipalities are now free to decide whether or not local shops can open on public holidays and Sundays, and between the hours of 22.00 and 06.00 on regular working days.

BMC, a public-sector research consultancy, was commissioned by the government to carry out the survey. Attitudes to the amended legislation were assessed by means of research studies, interviews, and a broad-based survey conducted among shopworkers, businesses and local government.