Polish Supreme Court issues verdict against Sunday shopping


Central Europe


Elzbieta Karczewska, a volunteer at the Esperanto library, reads a book inside the Ludwik Zamenhof centre in Bialystok, eastern Poland. Cultural activities are allowed to be open on Sunday. Photo AFP, Janek Skarzynski

In Poland, only cultural, sporting or tourist services are allowed to be open on Sunday. However, some other businesses tried to use this as a disguise to open their doors as well. Now, the Supreme Court has condemned this practice.

The three businesses had attempted to use the exemption for certain services allowed on Sunday to circumvent the mandatory closure on Sunday. Next to their main products, they opened, for example, a reading club, or they offered the rental of sports equipment.

The Justice Minister had asked the Supreme Court to acquit the shops. Still, the judge did not follow that reasoning, Notes From Poland reports. The Supreme Court ruled that to be allowed to remain open on Sunday, a business must have cultural, sporting or tourism activities as its primary business. Other forms of commercial activity must be secondary.

Sunday rest

On October 18, the Supreme Court issued a verdict against a shop of a large franchise chain which had opened an in-store library. Last September, another shop was rebuked for starting to rent out sports equipment, just like an alcohol shop condemned in the same month.

Since 2018, businesses must be closed on Sundays. The current government implemented a ban, thereby pleasing the Roman Catholic Church and the Solidarity trade union, which pleaded for the implementation of Sunday rest.


The State Labour Inspectorate says to be happy with the recent rulings of the Supreme Court. The Inspectorate hopes that this will have a deterrent effect for any business owners who wish to open their shop on Sunday.

Last year, the PiS government reminded the retail industry that Sunday is "a time for prayer and family", not for shopping, Notes from Poland writes. However, as the PiS government lost its majority in the recent elections, the future of the Sunday trading ban is uncertain.



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