Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sunday Shopping Restrictions Upheld by German Court

From this article about a ruling earlier today by the German Constitutional Court:
The court said the German capital could no longer allow stores to open on the four Sundays prior to Christmas, but permitted shopkeepers keep their doors open this Advent season one last time.

With the least restricted shopping hours in Germany, Berlin’s 2006 decision to allow stores to open on ten Sundays and holidays a year sparked a constitutional challenge by the Protestant and Catholic churches afraid the sanctity of their holy day was being unduly impinged.

After allowing the liberalisation of opening hours on every day of the week except Sunday a few years ago, the high court justices agreed there could be no further weakening of Germany’s Ladenschluss [German store closing] laws.

“A simple economic interest of merchants and the daily shopping interest of potential consumers are not fundamentally enough to justify exceptions for opening stores on these days,” said the court’s president, Judge Hans-J├╝rgen Papier.
Well, I guess December church attendance in Berlin should increase a little.


  1. I feel like this will increase the opportunity cost of going to church and people will want to find something else to do. Especially when Consumption in any economy is a leading indicator of GDP, people will want to continue to shop. This timing is bad since it falls right before Christmas. From experience, shops in Berlin are always full and have people from all over the world. This will lead to a snowball effect on the consumption of goods in that community. Foreigners traveling to Germany before Christmas will be disgruntled to hear about this especially if they want to get some last minute gifts for their families back home. Now these examples are definitely individually important to people, but as far as the economy is concerned, the people going to stores will decrease and this will be bad for all types of business. The church is trying to intervene in people's lives. Worse than this, is that it falls on days that people have off to go shop and spend their leisure time accordingly. In today's lecture, when a pastor accomodated the service to dog walkers, that proved to be a success. Now I am not implying that church services should be in malls, but it shows that if attendance is decreasing for a church, then there are more creative and efficient ways of going about to increase attendance. Closing shops will not do it.

  2. Jia Hui Huang

    Why would Berlin do that when the whole world is in a recession? The opportunity cost of closing the shop is the revenue that could have been earned from that particular Sunday. If Berlin restricts store from opening on Sunday, the Berlin economy may sink deeper into the recession and cut deeper into the lives of the common people.

    Also, most places would open up on holidays because it is the best time of the year to earn some revenue from the sales. There are a lot of foreigners traveling during Christmas break, and these people would buy souvenirs back for friends and relatives. Plus, Christmas is the time of the year where people buy many gifts for friends and relatives. Berlin should take the advantage of Christmas to help it move out of the recession slowly, but Berlin is reversing its action instead.

    Although the December church attendance would increase slightly, these people did not go with free will, but it feels as if they were forced to go. The main reason they are willing to go to the church is because all the shops are closed, so they have no other good places to go.

  3. In the accounting economics perspective, there's a great loss of profit potential with the last four sundays of Christmas. Considering that the Germany Government would impose such law, and if a great part of the Germany population is also religious, I would assume that some of them would work monday through saturday, meaning, not everyone will have a chance to go holiday shopping. It is a huge drawback for the stores and the people themselves. It will stop stores from having a lot of profit, and it will give the common people less time to go shopping during "crucial" times. But I would guess for the more religious people, it is a right for them to keep their sundays more sacred before a major day for the Christian faith. For some of them, the cost of the potential profit is no greater than honor to their sacred day.

  4. By doing this the German government is harming their economy. I know i said this in an earlier post about the french government and some disagreed but it would appear here that there is not a clear seperation between church and state. this move by the government seems typical of theocracy because they are letting their religious holidays dictate the operation of their economy. this is going to more then likey lower the opportunity cost of going to church for people on those days and increase church attendance on those days in Germany. On the other hand it will raise the opportunity cost on the surrounding days of not going shopping for people because they were given less days to do their shopping, thus the population will choose to shop, when allowed, instead of doing other things they have to do or are obligated to do. Randy Jurdi 62136464

  5. Kirk Arihara 26573377December 2, 2009 at 2:41 AM

    Yes as stated before, 4 Sundays Prior to Christmas is a economic loss to those especially associated with Christian and Catholic beliefs. There are really only two days to shop on the weekend and to eliminate one day would leave only one day. Many working class people work throughout the week and have limited time to "spend their money." Like Jia Huang stated above, with a global economic recession this can only hurt the economy by limiting the amount of money flow. Church attendance will increase since the oppurtunity cost of susbtitues will increase but this will definately hinder the income and employment of these stores. I think that having Sunday church increases spending, such that going to service makes one wake up and usually goes out after to malls resturaunts, etc. but I couldn't find statistics to prove this. Also with limitations within Germany's market consumers will turn to the international market, thus dangerously harming Germany's economy. "If you can't buy it here, buy it somewhere else."

  6. Cameron Noori 77311026December 2, 2009 at 12:45 PM

    I think some people may make this a bit more extreme than it really is. While losing the Sundays may result in a potential loss in profits, there are 6 others days in the week to purchase any Christmas necessities. But I do agree it is a bad idea, but it wont result in a severe blow to the German economy in my opinion. Like Jia said above however, the world is in troubled economic times and its probably not the wisest time to test these methods to increase church attendance.

  7. I tend to agree with Cameron Noori's argument that honestly, it's just one less day in the week to shop. However, for those consumers who are unable to shop during the week, the loss of one shopping day could deal a very very minor blow to the economy. I don't believe that it'd raise the opportunity cost of going to church, rather, it would decrease the opportunity cost. In a regulated market like Berlin's, a church goer now has less of a reason to skip church on Sunday to finish up christmas shopping. So the opportunity cost for CHURCH GOERS on SUNDAY should decrease.

    Personally, I'm a fan of a limited-regulation/practically unregulated market. Of course...this is impossible especially with the current economic situation and massive amounts of debt.
    Matt Shiu 26877728

  8. Kevin Santora

    After reading the article, I have to agree with Berlin mayor Klaus Woweriet in saying that the German government is taking a step backwards from an economic viewpoint. The state did not force anyone to keep their shops open on Sundays, nor did they force anyone to go shopping. The German government is forcing it's citizens to keep shops closed, when many of German's citizens may want/need to keep their shops open on Sundays. If Germany kept their shops open on Sundays, Germany would make an economic profit from tourism and shopping, which I am positive would help the government more so then keeping the shops closed. In addition, many people may need people to go shopping on Sundays in order to make money to make ends meet for the family, or buy last minute gifts for the family because Sunday is the only time they can do that. If a family member is not able to get his family gifts for Christmas because the shops are closed on Sundays that is in violation of his religion.

    A good solution to this situation I believe is to have the shops stay closed on Sundays until mass gets out in the mornings. Therefore it will encourage people to attend mass, relax on Sundays in the morning, while still allowing people to shop later in the day and provide economic profit for Germany.

  9. It is obvious that during this world wide recession, a day off on the four prior Sundays prior to Easter definitely negatively impacts consumption, resulting in a lowering of their GDP. A closed day of the week, especially a weekend hurts them economically from the standpoint of tourism, as well as holiday shopping not during the work week. The four day loss of possible revenue will set stores in deeper holes that do not allow for positive revenue.

    As a result, I do not think there is going to be an increase in church attendance due to so many other substitutes that could be done. Although shops would be closed, church would not be the only outcome for a Sunday to spend.

  10. Kevin, I see one possible concern with your proposed solution is that different churches meet at different times, so your proposal would have different effects on different groups.

    Jessie, I agree that there are many substitutes, but there is evidence that these so-called Blue Laws did affect church attendance in the U.S. So I'd guess that the Berlin law will affect church attendance, even if the effect is small.


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