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| The summer sales 2012 have been set by the préfecture for a period of 5 weeks starting on Wednesday 27th June at 8h00 until Tuesday 31st July. During the sale period, shops are usually allowed to open on a couple of Sundays
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In the past, retailers have only been able to hold sales twice a year, of a maximum of six weeks, each, and on dates decided for them by the prefecture of each department. Summer sales usually taken 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.) However, changes over the past few years now allow retailers to choose a further two weeks, on top of the summer and winter sales, to hold their own sales weeks.
The government have also been looking for a while at laws to make Sunday trading more flexible although many large stores have so far expressed little interest in this, stating that it is not worth their while to open on Sunday and pay double time or time-off in lieu.
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.
Auchan in Perpignan has lost its battle to open on Sundays, even in the tourist season.
Thirteen charges were brought against the supermarket in 2011 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) this week 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 has not made this request.