Media commentators in Norway were widely predicting that the government’s attempt to allow all stores to open for business on Sundays is politically dead. The Liberal Party, which held the swing votes on the issue, has backed away from its original support to liberalize laws regarding opening hours.
The Conservative and Progress parties, which form the government coalition, have been keen to remove current restrictions that only allow small stores and those in areas designated as tourist or transport hubs to open on Sundays. All other stores are only allowed to open on Sundays in the run-up to the Christmas holidays.
The Liberals initially went along with removal of the bans on Sunday shopping but later had second thoughts and instead proposed leaving it up to individual municipalities. That wasn’t popular and this week, the Liberals launched yet another model that would give municipalities only limited opportunity to allow shopping on Sundays.
That didn’t win much either, so now it appears the issue is dead for the time being. Progress Party leader Siv Jensen, who also serves as finance minister, maintains that the public should be allowed to decide whether they want to shop on Sunday and she’s still urging more negotiations. The Liberals now appear unlikely to budge, though, with all other parties in Parliament firmly against Sunday shopping despite the jobs it could create at a time of rising unemployment. Both the national employers’ and labour organizations want to keep stores closed, as do religious organizations and many others offering their opinions while the issue was up for public hearing.