Hungary bans sunday shopping
Hungary bans sunday shoppingReuters

On Tuesday, the Hungarian government passed a ban on Sunday shopping to ensure that families  spend time together.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his Fidesz conservative party backed the controversial ban initiated by the Christian democrats KNDP, the junior partner in the governing coalition, which will majorly affect large-sized retailers.

The new law, titled, "On the prohibition of Sunday work in the retail sector", requires all stores to be closed on Sundays, except for those retail spaces that do not exceed 200 square meters in area, Hungarian business news site Porfolio reported. The smaller stores too can be opened only if the Sunday staff is a business owner with a stake of at least 20 % in the store or a family member.

Other business exempted from law evocative of postwar Western European restrictions, include tobacconists; pharmacies; retail units at airports, train stations, prisons or hospitals; farmers' markets; petrol stations; stores on military precincts.

There are a few loopholes to the Sunday ban though, for example, all retail units are allowed to function from 6.00 am to 10.00 pm on the Sundays preceding Christmas and any one other Sunday of the owner's choice.

The retailers opposing the bill in Hungary, which is struggling with 10.5 % unemployment and modest levels of average incomes, has warned that the Sunday shopping ban will result in at least 20,000 layoffs.

The National Association of Entrepreneurs and Employers has also vowed to organize a national referendum on the ban, citing that around 20% of Hungarians do the bulk of their weekly shopping on Sunday, reported LA Times.

It is also being said that there is no economic rationale behind the shopping curbs, which take effect from March 2015.

This is not the first time Hungary has passed ridiculous bills like the ban on Sunday shopping. In 2013, the Hungarian Parliament had passed a law that forbade the homeless from sleeping on the streets. The law that criminalised the homeless dealt them community work, fines and even imprisonment.