French DIY retailers have moved a step closer to full freedom to trade on Sundays with a new ruling from the country's government.
Home improvement stores will now be exempt from the ban on trading on the traditional day of rest - but only until July 2015. During that time the government wants to review and overhaul France's complicated and sometimes baffling rules on Sunday trading, which allow some stores - garden and furniture, for instance - to open and others not.
However, while temporarily lifting the ban the government has stressed that staying closed on Sundays should remain the norm.
Said commerce and employment ministers Sylvia Pinel and Michel Sapin: "This exemption aims at, temporarily, giving a stable legal framework for the Sunday openings that have been found to be taking place in this sector, while awaiting a general overhaul of exemptions to Sunday closing, which should remain the general rule."
In addition, store employees will be allowed to work on Sundays only if willing to do so, they must be paid at least twice as much as usual, get time off in lieu and receive guarantees relating to job security and training opportunities.
The new decree affects around 180 DIY stores, which will now legally be able to trade on Sundays until July 1 next year.
French DIY chains' exasperation with their country's trading regulations came to a head last year
. Bricorama complained that while it had been forced by the courts to close its doors on a Sunday its rivals Leroy Merlin and Kingfisher-owned Castorama were still allowed to trade. The ban was then extended to those two - but they opened up regardless and found widespread support amongst their staff, who welcomed the extra cash from working an additional day.
An appeals court subsequently decided that the pair could open on Sundays until a definitive ruling was made.