BERLIN – The German Federal Constitutional Court has ruled that Berlin’s liberalized shopping hour regulations, which currently allow stores to open on the four Sundays of Advent, are unconstitutional. The ruling will take effect starting in 2010.

In 2006, when shopping hours became a matter of local rather than federal jurisdiction, Berlin became the first German state to topple the country’s regimented shopping rules. The liberalized regulations permitted stores to open their doors for business from 1 p.m. – 8 p.m. on up to 10 Sundays per year.
The Catholic and Evangelical churches took the matter to court, which has now ruled that store openings four Sundays in a row is against a 1919 article in the constitution that defines Sundays as being fundamentally a day of rest.

Under the new ruling, Berlin stores can stay open six Sundays a year. Four are to be determined by the Berlin Senate and a further two by the stores themselves to celebrate company anniversaries, street festivals and the like.

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