The summer sales 2018 have been set by the préfecture for a period of 6 weeks starting on Wednesday 4th July at 8h00 until Tuesday 14th August. During the sale period, shops are usually allowed to open on a couple of Sundays
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Summer sales usually take place from the last week of June/first week of July, 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.

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