With a new Conservatives-led government promising more individual freedom and market liberalization in Norway, the country’s biggest grocery chains say they’re gearing up to open for business on Sundays. State law has, until now, banned store openings on Sundays except for those under 100 square meters in size and located new transit hubs and tourist areas. That may be about to change.
NorgesGruppen, Norway’s dominant grocery retailer that owns such chains as Kiwi, Meny and Spar, is already preparing for Sunday business that’s expected to be allowed after the new government takes over later this month. Coop and Reitan, which runs the REMA 1000 chain, also say they’ll open on Sundays as soon as they legally can, as do major shopping centers owned by the Thon chain, such as Sandvika Senter west of Oslo.
The prospect of Sunday shopping isn’t welcomed by all, especially the Christian Democrats party and those who want to maintain the Norwegian tradition of going on a Sunday hike instead. Trade union federation LO is also opposed, despite the jobs that can be created, because they fear a decline in workers’ rights.
Many store managers are also skeptical about opening on Sundays, fearing it won’t be easy to find enough staff, that it will cut into their own time off and may not be profitable. Others fear they’ll be pressured into opening to maintain market share, but government officials stress it will only be an option for those who want to do business on Sundays and for consumers who may appreciate the option.