Almost exactly 12 months ago, I was writing a series of articles for this publication about e-commerce and legislative changes in Poland. At that time, retailers were nervously awaiting the announcement of the dreaded Sunday trading restrictions and customers, including myself, were wondering how they would be affected.
The new law finally came into force on March 1, 2018, and as a result, stores must now close on Sundays apart from the first and last Sunday of each month (a few businesses, such as gas stations, pharmacies and shops run directly by their owners, are excepted). As of January 1, 2019, the rules tighten even more, and stores may open one Sunday per month; in 2020, Sunday trading will be banned completely, with only seven Sundays per year (around key holidays) being unaffected.
Although it may be too early to reach any definitive conclusions about the impact of the ban, a couple of trends have already been detected.
Evolving customer behavior
First, customers are pragmatic. If they remember that the
shops will be closed on the coming Sunday, they adjust
plans accordingly, with Saturday (mainly in big cities)
becoming the main day for shopping activity; just try to find
an empty parking space in a shopping center on a Saturday.
By virtue of modified consumer behavior, shopping centers
have compensated for the losses in revenue caused by the
new legislation to some extent.
Nevertheless, as some recent reports show, they have
still suffered a single-digit decline in the number of visitors
compared to this time last year.
E-Commerce on the rise
The Sunday trading ban has further stimulated the growth
of e-commerce in Poland, but it has not revolutionized it as
some were predicting. Retailers, especially those from the
fashion sector, have come to realize that online sales can
be the perfect solution to the Sunday trading ban, since
online shopping is not restricted. Retailers have adopted
new marketing strategies and created special advertising
campaigns and promotional offers directed to online
shoppers. For example, customers are often offered free
delivery or price reductions when shopping online on
Sundays. These mechanisms are helping retailers to attract
A year ago, I was one of those people who was wondering
how the Sunday trading ban would affect my life. Eight months
after the law came into effect, many Polish consumers,
including myself, do not see the law as significantly limiting
their shopping options. With the trading ban set to become
stricter over the next couple of years, the inconvenience
may become more burdensome for the customers, leading
the e-commerce sector to expand and evolve even more
dynamically as a natural product of filling the gap.