Are you confused about the upcoming Sunday trading ban? Here's a simple summary of what it is and what it means for shoppers in Wrocław.
Why is the ban being introduced?
The Sunday trading ban is the result of pressure from members of the Polish Catholic Church and the Solidarność trade union. It was voted into law by the Polish Parliament late last year.
The Church hope that the change will boost attendances at its Sunday services, while Solidarność believe it will allow retail staff to spend more time with family and friends.
Naturally there are a number of critics of the new law and it is not universally popular. It has nonetheless been voted and though and rubber stamped, so whether you like it or not, it's happening.
When does it apply?
The trading ban will be active every other Sunday as of March 11th (with the exception of some Sundays before religous holidays).
In 2019 large supermarkets and large shops will be closed 3 times per month, with a total Sunday shutdown (bar some special exceptions) planned for the following year.
If you ever lose track of which Sunday the ban is active, just refer to the photo below. Every date circled in red indicates when large shops and supermarkets will be closed (the dates other than Sundays are public holidays).
What places will be closed?
Supermarkets and all other large shops will be closed. Petrol stations, convenience stores, florists, bakeries and newsagents will however remain open.
The ban does not apply to gyms, museums, cinemas, cafes, pubs, restaurants and other attractions.
Will shopping centres be closed then?
No, but almost all the shops inside them will be. The cafes, restaurants, cinemas, gyms, florists, newsagents and bakeries inside shopping centres can however still do business on a Sunday.
How do the supermarkets plan to deal with the ban?
Piotr i Pawel have announced that they will be delivering shopping to customers on Sundays. Anyone can order online and expect to see their goods delivered within 4 hours.
Lidl have decided to try and grab a share of the Saturday shopping market by launching big promotions on Saturdays.
Meanwhile Biedronka have promised to bring in more staff on Saturdays to ensure that they can have every checkout open during peak hours.
Some supermarkets (namely Carrefour and Piotr i Pawel) are also experimenting with so called 'coolomats', which are affectively food lockers with a built-in fridge. Customers will buy products online and then pick them up using a special code, just like with parcels and 'pacztomats'. At this moment in time the trial scheme is only in operation in Warsaw, but coolmats will inevitably come to Wrocław if sales are good.
Is the change good for retail staff?
On the face of it, yes – if you work full time and like the idea of having Sundays off. However there are fears the ban could make life worse for retail staff.
Many shop workers will soon find themselves working until 11pm on Fridays and Sundays.
Biedronka have also announced that they are seriously considering introducing nightshifts between 00.15 and 05.45 on Mondays that follow a Sunday with a trading ban.
Even if retail staff don't have to work at the unsociable hours mentioned above, they could easily find themselves out of a job. It is expected that a number of part time employees will be made redundant after the trading ban kicks in. An area manager of a major clothing chain has already confirmed to Wrocław Uncut that some of her company's staff are to be relieved of their duties this month.
Some economic observers have even suggested that the trading ban could accelerate automation, further harming the prospects of those employed in the retail sector.
One example of innovation in this field is already visible inside the Magnolia shopping centre, where internet shoe store eobuwie.pl have set up a 'warehouse'. All of the transactions inside the premises are made online via special tablet devices, while the staff are all employed as logistics workers. By using this method it is believed that the online shoe giant will be able to trade on Sundays.
What about all those loopholes retailers were trying to exploit?
Ever since the Sunday trading ban was passed into law by the Polish Parliament, there have been countless suggestions as to how shops may get around the new legislation. However with just a few days until the ban kicks in, very few retailers appear willing to run the risk of a hefty fine by using a legal loophole to keep trading.
Even if someone does find a way they can sell products on Sundays, the government have promised to amend the law as soon as possible.
It had been suggested that supermarkets with in-store bakeries could flout the ban by classing themselves as bakeries. That option was nonetheless blocked by the government, who amended the law by adding a clause stipulating that each bakery's main source of income must be baked goods.
Another idea has been to open shops as 'showrooms' whereby customers can browse products and then purchase them online. Last month, the boss of the 'Top Secret' clothing chain suggested that he would use this method to keep his shops open on Sunday. That said, there has been virtually nothing said of this since the story hit the headlines.
Another exception to the law are shops inside train stations, bus stations and airports, all of which are able to trade on Sundays. The existence of this exception had sparked rumours that shops in the Wroclavia centre could stay open due to the fact that the bus station is in the same building. However any shop that does open must prove that its product offering "serves the needs of the passengers". So far we are not aware of any shop inside the Wroclavia centre that is prepared to use this clause to open on Sundays.
What about the Biedronka in the train station?
There is a chance that the Biedronka store located inside the main train station will continue to operate as normal on Sundays. The shop's location inside of the train station, combined with the fact it sells snacks for passengers, means it could theoretically open seven days a week.
A report by Business Insider published on Tuesday stated that the authorities have given the green light for Biedronka to keep its train station supermarkets open.
However Biedronka are said to be worried about the legal consequences. They fear that not all the products in their store meet the "servicing the needs of the passengers" criteria stipulated in the government's legislation.
Therefore we still don't know if Biedronka's train station stores will be open on a Sunday. Business Insider believe that the shops will initially be closed on Sundays, but could open in the future once the retail chain are confident they won't get fined.
Where can I grab some things I need on a Sunday then?
One company that seems set to benefit from the Sunday trading ban is Orlen. The state-owned petrol station firm appeared to learn about the ins and outs of the Sunday trading ban well before their competitors.
As a result, they are taking advantage of their right to trade on Sundays by extending their product range. Soon will it be possible to buy things like fresh meat, shoes and even electronics at Orlen petrol stations.
Popular convenience stores such as Żabka, Fresh Market, Carrefour Express and Małpka Express will also be open. The same is true of Sunday markets.
Will shops be open longer during the week?
The following five shopping malls have already confirmed that they will extend their opening hours: Korona, Wroclavia, Magnolia Park, Wrocław Fashion Outlet and Pasaż Grunwaldzki. Please check the respective websites of each shopping centre for info.
Will it be like this for good?
At this moment in time it is tough to say. As we mentioned earlier, the plan is to ban trading on Sundays every week by 2020. However the government are monitoring the effect it will have on the economy, as well as public opinion.
Not so long ago the Hungarian Government, who have a similar outlook to PiS, were forced to scrap their Sunday trading ban due to its unpopularity. It wouldn't be out of the question for the same thing to happen here, although at this moment in time it does look unlikely.