Summer Sales 2016
|The summer sales 2016 have been set by the préfecture for a period of 6 weeks starting on Wednesday 22nd June at 8h00 until Tuesday 2nd August. During the sale period, shops are usually allowed to open on a couple of Sundays
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In the past, retailers were only able to hold sales twice a year, for a maximum of six weeks, on dates decided for them by the prefecture of each department.
Summer sales usually take place in the last week of June, and winter sales around the second week of January. (Special promotions do not count as ‘sales’ and can take place whenever the shop wishes, as long as they conform to certain conditions.)
Summer and winter sale dates in the Pyrenees Orientales are different from the majority of department in France because it is a border region.
In 2009, a law proposed by Sarkozy, was passed allowing shops to open on Sundays in tourist areas and some large towns, despite an outcry from the Catholic church, and protests from most political paries including his own!
When challenged, Sarkozy said “Our country has the greatest number of tourists in the world – 80 million a year. Is it normal that on a Sunday, when Mrs Obama wants to take her daughters shopping in Paris, I have to make a phone call to ask the shops to open? How do I explain to the Obamas why on Sunday, we’re the only country that’s closed?”
When the law was first passed, many large stores expressed little interest, stating that it was not worth their while to open on Sunday and pay double time or time-off in lieu. The Sunday opening hour laws which apply today are complicated and involve many applications and the usual ton of paperwork.
However, since June 2014, shops and supermarkets selling food can open on Sunday morning.
Here in the P-O, new laws in Figueras allowing shops to open on Sunday, and the proximity of the 7 day opening Le Perthus and La Jonquera have been particularly damaging for the region’s commerce.
The Sunday closing laws actually date back 100 years to a law which grants employees the right to 24 hours complete rest in any six-day period, and is not due to religion as many believe. Although employees can volunteer to work extra hours, they may well be entitled to up to 300% of their basic wage or an extra day in lieu.
In 2011, Auchan in Perpignan lost its battle to open on Sundays, even in the tourist season.
Thirteen charges were brought against the supermarket in the P.-O. for opening on Sunday. Only one of those resulted in a fine of 450 euros. Employees and groups working for ‘le repos dominical’ (Sunday rest) claimed ‘une grande victoire pour tous les salariés dans la lutte contre le travail dominical’ when the Court of Appeal of Montpellier confirmed the decision made in 2011, stating that Auchan must remain closed on Sundays or risk a fine of 100,000 euros per day.
If they do open on Sunday, they must conform to an ‘arrêté prefectural’ passed in 1965, by which they must close on the Monday following the Sunday opening!
Legally, shops selling mainly food may stay open on Sundays until 13h and the mayor has the right to apply for permission for supermarkets to remain open in tourist areas over the summer season. However, Perpignan council did not made this request last year. As for this year, we’ll just have to wait and see!