Stores remain open November 17, but many Czechs say they shouldn't be

The 2016 law regulating holiday shopping has left store operators, workers, and shoppers calling for a full ban or none at all.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 16.11.2021 14:02 (updated on 16.11.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

The ban on opening stores over 200 square meters does not apply to Nov. 17, which is the Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day. Most supermarkets, hobby markets, furniture networks, and shopping centers will be open for their normal opening hours.

Since many people are confused over which holidays the ban applies to, large stores and chains are trying to spread the word over social media and via leaflets that they are open and that it is not too early to shop for the Christmas season.

Many large chains and business associations have criticized the law requiring shops to close on some holidays but not others. Stores are open for May Day on May 1, for example, but closed Liberation from Fascism Day on May 8.

They want the law scrapped, as in its present state there is no logic as to when it applies. Currently, it only applies to seven holidays, plus a half-day on Dec. 24.

The ban also does not apply to all stores. Pharmacies, gas stations, and shops at airports, railway stations, and hospitals are exempt. Online shops also continue to take orders.

“We know from customer feedback that the current model, in which stores are open on some public holidays and closed on some holidays, is still confusing for many customers,” Penny Market spokesman Tomáš Kubík told the Czech News Agency (ČTK).

On the other hand, some trade unions and even some shoppers are calling for the law to be extended to cover all 13 state holidays. Before the law for closing shops passed in 2016, unions had been calling for restrictions on holiday store openings for over a decade so workers could be with their families. They had hoped the law would cover all state holidays.

What should happen to large stores on state holidays?

All stores should be closed. 35 %
All stores should have the option of being open. 62 %
The current law that applies only to some holidays is fine. 3 %
240 readers voted on this poll. Voting is open

Many shoppers seem less than enthusiastic about shopping on holidays. Supermarket chain Lidl posted on Facebook that it would have its normal hours, and many of the over 200 comments from the public said they would rather see store staff be able to celebrate freedom and democracy with a day off from work, like almost everyone else.

“It is a holiday, so let the workers be home. The nation will not perish in one day,” one person said.

“Thank you for thinking of us … but I would advocate for freedom for your staff,” another person said.

A person claiming to work in retail disagreed, and said that closing the store for one day caused a lot of complications.

“I have to say that it’s worse for us to have one day off and … then the next day face a raid of customers. It is better to go to work normally like every day and have time off individually without increased stress,” she said.

A similar line of discussion took place on the Facebook page for Penny Market, which had over 115 comments. People on that thread called for stores to be closed on all holidays to end confusion and let workers be with their families.

On both threads, customers seemed to be divided on the issue, and some pointed out that others had to work, such as chefs and serving staff. They also said stores would not be open if it did not bring in customers, so there must be sufficient demand. There were also those who felt that sales staff would rather work and get extra pay and that having stores open one more day would overall reduce crowding.

Sales restrictions on selected holidays in stores over 200 square meters have applied from the end of 2016. Most large stores must remain closed on New Year's Day, Easter Monday, May 8, Sept. 28, Oct. 28, and Dec. 25 and 26. Most stores also have to close at noon on Dec. 24, the day most Czechs celebrate Christmas.

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