Closes debate on Sunday shopping


The Parties with the key to allow normal shopping on Sundays removes it from their programs, leaving the Progressive Party (FRP) alone without support from a parliamentary majority.

The party leadership for the Conservative Party adopted the liberal forces stance on allowing alcohol consumption in parks and to allow stronger beer to be sold in supermarkets. But the Conservative big-wigs quelled the ‘Sunday rebellion’ factions who fought for an aye to allow Sunday shopping lost in the referendum.

Today’s Sunday law is based on the compromise of the then Minister of Labour, Sylvia Brustad, in 1997. A limit of 100 square meters shopping area was a key element in the policy of the so called ‘Brustadbua’ (Brustad’s stall).’

In the winter of 2015 former cabinet ministers Thorhild Widvey (Conservatives, H) launched a proposal to let the market decide the opening hours on Sundays. It was met with a storm.

The Christian Democrats (KrF) went into the trenches. Within Høyre itself – not least in the South and West Norway – local politicians reacted negatively.

In Parliament Høyre and FRP were reliant on support from the Liberals (Venstre) to achieve a relaxation of the legislation. But negotiations never led to a conclusion.

Before Christmas of 2015 Prime Minister Erna Solberg confirmed that there would not be a complete deregulation of Sunday shopping.

Quarrels between the food chains about illegal Sunday trading, in the spring of 2016 resulted in a committee to evaluate the current regulations.
Not only do the Conservatives tone down the matter of open Sunday shops in their national convents new party program, but even the Liberals’ ’final draft’ to their program suggest a much less drastic variant of Sunday shopping than last time.

– The reason is that we have accepted signals from the party itself, says Terje Breivik, who has led the Liberals’ program work.

In this parliamentary term it was the Liberals who tilted the vote and was the key to more Sunday trading. Therefore FrP are now alone with a clear desire to remove all rules on opening hours.

If there is still a non-socialist majority after this autumn’s parliamentary elections, it will therefore not be a majority for full liberalization of Sunday trading.
Conservatives: “Adapting”

Sunday’s decision by the Conservatives allows for adjustments, but no major trade reform. The party’s new program states:

“the Conservatives will adapt opening hours in retail to when consumers want to shop.”

Four years ago, the Conservatives wanted to “allow Sunday open shops.” During Sunday’s congress pushed the Young Conservatives and party groups from Oslo, Oppland and Trøndelag to retain this exact phrase, but lost in the referendum.

The Liberals: “City life”

Also the Liberals – which was the key party in this period – is probably about to moderate their stance too. The proposal that was recently adopted by the National Executive Committee, states that the Liberals will “open up for the municipalities to allow Sunday open of shops in the town centre as a means to ensure better inner city life.”

In the previous program it was stated that it was the local elected officials that were the most qualified to assess the opening hours in their municipality. It should “therefore not be any restrictions imposed by the government.”

A suggestion from the Oslo bench to repeal the entire Sunday restriction was rejected by the Representatives.
“Hustle and bustle.’

The turning point for the Liberal Party was at the Congress in Tromsø two years ago, where there was a rebellion against Sunday shopping. Profiled local politicians warned against it- and the party leadership struggled to stop the resistance.

– There was an extensive debate during the convention and even without holding a ballot, we accepted these signals, Terje Breivik explains.

Personally he is happy that the Liberals now formulate themselves in more restrictive terms:

– In a world characterized by ever more hustle and bustle, I think that we need one day a week where we can live our lives peacefully, says Breivik.

Shutting the door

Strongest opposition to Sunday shopping has been from the Christian Democrats (KrF). The party has been supported from Labour (AP) and not in the least from the Centre Party (SP). The latter will again keep the wording “not extend trading with Sunday open shops.” In Labour’s new program trading on holidays are not referred to, but the party line is the same.

KrF spokesman Geir J. Bekkevold is pleased that the Conservatives and Liberals are moderating themselves.

– are the changes they make in practical terms shutting the door on the issue of extending Sunday trade?

– It may be the final straw. The Liberals has still a policy opening up in town centres. But although the two parties haven’t rescinded completely, they have turned the screw considerably tighter, he replies.
An X factor

In the quiet there is a committee at work- appointed by the Minister of Culture – reviewing the rules for trading on holidays and possible adjustments. The conclusion will come in the autumn, most likely after the elections. It is an X factor – and can revive the S.


Source: / Norway Today