The Retail Sector and Sunday Shopping. The Origins of a 45-Year-Old Controversy

White Collar Workers and Welfare State in France Since 1945
By Tristan Jacques

Whether shops should be allowed to open on Sundays is a controversial topic that recurs periodically in public debate. While historians are very familiar with the labour movement’s struggle to make Sunday a day of rest, nobody has ever studied the origins of this debate in its present form. In the late 1960s, the rise of the retail sector – and especially large furniture retailers – exacerbated the difficulties enforcing legislation that contained a large number of derogations and exceptions. This paper aims to study the various roles of trade organisations, along with the changing and complex stance of the public authorities, notably the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Labour, and their administrations, seeking to stamp out inflation by modernising trade and thus defending deregulation of Sunday shopping.

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