Sunday shopping in distress

As all Dutch know, this time the country is led by mr. Balkenende, in a coalition with mr. Bos and mr. Rouvoet.
They are responsible for a hoax of new rules, which all tend to contribute to a set of social rules, known as "Normen en Waarden", standards and values in English.

These standards and values are inspired by the Christian legacy our country has, and the political and religious points of view of Balkenende and Rouvoet in special, and Bos in a lesser fashion. Their parties (CDA, Christian-democratic; CU, orthodox Protestant; PvdA, social-democratic respectively) have come to an agreement, which not all Dutch are happy with.

According to the Shopping time law ("Winkeltijdenwet") a shop can only open on weekdays and Saturdays, as Sunday is to be respected as a day of rest as encouraged by the bible. Luckily for all of us working people, some cities have been given permissions to  let their shops be opened on Sunday; in the interest of tourism. Rotterdam, The Hague and Amsterdam are good examples of this, they all have all year round Sunday shopping.
Back to reality: a proposal has been made for the government to enforce the shopping time law fully, and to maximise the number of Sundays to 12 per year. In fact, the intention was to close all shops on Sunday, but this was not achievable as the "Tweede Kamer" would probably not have agreed with the proposal, so the 12 days max has been introduced.

The main arguments for enforcing the law to its full extend are numerous, and all not valid. I will list some.

Sunday shopping disturbs the traditional day of rest, as inspired by the bible, a day which we should use to get together and show eachother affection in these hectic days in time.
Sunday shopping is not good for owners of small shops, they face false competition in comparison with large, nationwide, companies.
These two arguments have inspired our government to the next quote "All municipalities must weigh the Sunday rest, livability and safety sufficiently" when considering Sunday shopping.
Livability and security? Of who? Of all 60 thousand people earning 100 to 150% of their salary when working on Sunday? Of the shop owners who can see their turnover and profit grow over time due to the opening on Sunday? I guess neither of them, as both get better from working and opening on Sunday.

Doom scenario’s for owners of small shops are greatly exaggerated, wide visiting hours have proven profitable for the entire society in the UK, and even showed the increase of the number of owners of small shops; they’ve begun to open specialist shops to compete with the big stores on niche markets (which are more profitable even).

I think the maximising or even abolishing of Sunday shopping is bad.
It affects just those people who are unevenly targeted by the government if it comes to paying taxes. They are the "hardwerkende Nederlanders" or hard-working Dutch as coined by mr. Mark Rutte from the VVD (liberal) when describing the workforce which supports The Netherlands the most. They exist of young couples and families with two (or 1.5) working parents, who currently enjoy the Sunday shopping the most as it makes their lives easier; Sundays can be used to shop while the other days are reserved for doing the household and their job(s).

Concluding: our government tells us to work hard, to support our society. Okay, working hard is fine, but spending your money on the time which is most convenient for just those people is not allowed anymore. Apparently the earned money can not be spent freely, but has to be handed to the government to redistribute, … to those pitiful few who are not working.

2 thoughts on “Sunday shopping in distress”

  1. I think you’re painting too bleak a picture. The law in it’s current form isn’t working as it was supposed to. It’s being abused because of the connotation of ‘touristic attraction and value’ that’s causing cities such as Haarlem to use it to allow their shops to open on Sundays.

    So yes, I do think the law requires changing to the way it functions. I think the current proposal is way off the mark, however. Bustling cities such as Rotterdam, Utrecht or Eindhoven – the centres of commerce for their entire area – are simply needed for their environment for exactly the reasons you’ve sketched.

    However, to allow Haarlem to open their shops on sundays on the argument of touristic value is simply absurd. The number of tourists visiting the town on an average weekend is probably countable on the fingers of a man’s hand. If such a town is allowed to open shops up on sundays, let it be on another argument entirely. Let it prove that it’s commercially viable ánd attributes to the welfare of it’s citizens. I for one think that a sunday without shops would finally cause people to go out and enjoy their environment more: go walking in forests, go cycling – whatever. That’s certainly a positive point for me.

    So yes, a change is required, but no, the current one is off the mark. But to start calling the government greedy bastards (where the hell did you pull that one from?) who take from the ‘hard-working dutchmen’ and give to the ‘pitiful lazy few’, is just not called for. A good argument ended with unjustified namecalling. What a shame. Bloody liberal 😉

  2. Hehe, you should know I’m not a liberal, but I’ve always accepted most of the democratic-socialist idea’s to be the closest to my own.

    Back ontopic, I totally agree on the fact the toleration of Sunday shopping is nowadays based on the wrong arguments. Shops should be allowed to open when they want, protection for shop owners against getting overworked from opening their shop too much is not a task for our government in my opinion, I think those people are smart enough to understand the risk and to avoid it.

    Also, I think (and this is my liberal, perhaps even anti Christian side) the concept of one (obligatory) day rest is not of these times, you should be allowed to decide which day it is; thus it should not be decided for us by the government. Cycling, socializing and soforth are indeed good activities besides the daily actions, but why should they be on a Sunday?

    Besides this, I think your comment on my last sentence is valid, as I was trying to catch my feelings in a stimulating and slightly controversial conclusion. Which evidently worked well. 😉

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