Will businesses be able to raise the curtain on Sundays during the Olympic and Paralympic Games? This is what the government wants. Submitted to the Senate on Tuesday, January 24, the bill relating to the 2024 Olympics – which aims to adapt certain rules to the constraints linked to the organization of the Games – proposes to authorize the Sunday opening of stores in municipalities hosting a event as well as in neighboring municipalities. An exceptional derogation for businesses that so wish, and which will apply exclusively from June 1 to September 30, 2024.
Currently, the legislation only authorizes 12 Sunday openings per year for retail establishments, with the exception of those located in international tourist areas (ZTI). The latter are authorized to welcome their customers every day of the week, all year round. In France, there are nineteen ZTIs, twelve of which are located in Paris and Île-de-France and seven in the regions, particularly on the coast such as Cannes, Nice or La Baule-Escoublac.
The bill proposes to derogate from this rule during the summer of 2024, for businesses in the host cities of a sports competition – such as Paris, Bordeaux, Marseille… – as well as neighboring municipalities, likely to welcome tourists.
Restore equity between ZTI businesses and others
With 9.7 million spectators and 10,500 athletes expected in Paris in the summer of 2024, the government sees this as an opportunity for a surplus of activity not to be missed for businesses. “Among these millions of visitors, there is a substantial proportion of foreign tourists with substantial purchasing power: opening one more day can make the difference for our merchants”, says Olivia Grégoire’s office, Minister delegate in charge of SMEs, trade, crafts and tourism. “The risks of observing a saturation of hotel offers in Paris and in the neighboring towns are high. It would be unfair for the shops next to these accommodations to close the curtain and for everyone to gather to do their shopping on the main boulevards. »
This injustice, or “inequity” in the words of Olivia Grégoire, was notably denounced by Florence Berthout, mayor (Horizons) of the 5th arrondissement. She brought this same proposal to the Council of Paris. “How to explain that the Parisian department stores of these ZTIs have this reserved right, and that a few tens or hundreds of meters away, small and medium-sized businesses must remain closed? “Asks the city councilor, who denounces “incoherent” legislation and in favor of large establishments.
But at the town hall of Paris, the project displeases. “There is a framework which is very suitable, that of twelve Sundays a year”, declared to the Parisian Olivia Polski, the assistant in charge of trade, supported by the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo. The latter fears the fait accompli which could allow, subsequently, to change the rule and perpetuate this Sunday opening.
Proponents of openness, however, argue that the use of these twelve days during the summer of 2024 could disadvantage merchants who already consume these Sundays at other times, such as at Christmas or during sales. “Twelve Sundays open or more, it’s up to our businesses to decide! “says Florence Berthout, who has received the support of associations of traders in her district and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) of Paris.
An experimental period during the Rugby World Cup
The mayor of the 5th arrondissement of Paris also says she is “in favor of a trial phase during the Rugby World Cup”, which will be held in France in September and October next. A “experimentation planned and currently examined by the government ”, we advance on the side of the cabinet of Olivia Grégoire. It will certainly be discussed in Parliament.
A sensitive subject among the French, does the bill have enough to revive the debate on Sunday opening? “The measure remains exceptional and temporary”, we argue at the ministry. In December 2022, at the microphone of France 3, Olivia Grégoire nevertheless said she was “favorable” to a modification of the law, authorizing businesses to open on Sundays all year round, and everywhere in France.
The opening of stores on Sunday still divides the French
– The creation of International Tourist Zones (ZTI), in which shops can open on Sundays and in the evening until midnight, dates back to the Macron law of August 6, 2015. The shops concerned must reach an agreement with employees providing for compensation and volunteering.
– The twelve Paris ZTIs cover 7% of the surface area of the capital. More than 50,000 employees work there in the retail trade, or 43% of employment in this sector in Paris, according to INSEE. Trade is the activity that employs the most people in these areas, followed by restaurants, then banks.
– A study by the Research Center for the Study and Observation of Living Conditions (Crédoc) indicates that the French remain divided on the opening of stores on Sundays: 51.7% are in favor while 46.7% say they are hostile to the Sunday opening.
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