Switzerland moves to allow more shops to open on Sundays

Switzerland moves to allow more shops to open on Sundays

The Federal Economics Minister has unveiled plans to reform Sunday opening hours in Switzerland. Guy Parmelin said his plan to extend working hours would make Swiss cities more attractive as tourist destinations, while critics say the idea aims to scrap workers' right to a day off.

Switzerland looking to relax Sunday shopping rules

In a statement given to Watson, the Department of Economy, Training and Research confirmed that it was looking to relax the rules around Sunday shopping in Switzerland. Currently, the majority of shops in the alpine nation have to close their doors on Sundays, with the exception of those attached to train stations and airports, and those in a limited number of ski resorts.

Watson noted that while local authorities do control most regulations around working hours, Sunday working is one of the few aspects that remain anchored in federal law. The new plan, which was inspired by plans brought forward by Canton Zurich in 2022, would therefore allow all Swiss cantons to decide for themselves when and where Sunday shopping would be allowed. 

Sunday shopping would boost tourism, supporters argue

Economic Minister Guy Parmelin said that he would be looking into relaxing the rules by the end of November. Supporters of the proposal noted back in 2022 that Sunday shopping was “essential for technical and economic reasons” as Swiss stores and supermarkets are unable to benefit from the extra time to sell - especially stores that target tourists.

Speaking back in 2022, Canton Zurich State Councillor Carmen Walker-Späh said that the Sunday openings would likely be reserved for major tourist hotspots like Zurich, Geneva, Basel, Bern and Lausanne - although every canton would have the right to make their own rules. She added that it was unfair that ski resorts were not beholden to Sunday trading rules, noting that “in St. Moritz, you can also buy your ski equipment on Sundays. But if you forget your bathing suit in Zurich, you find yourself in front of closed doors.”

Plans would chip away at Swiss workers' rights, say opponents

Others are not so keen to see Sunday shopping rules dropped. Adrian Wüthrich, president of the Travailsuisse trade union, told Blick that the tourist justification is being used to chip away at workers’ rights to a day off on Sunday. He argued that tourism numbers have already “returned to pre-COVID levels, including in cities," so the change was far from necessary.

The union leader added that Sunday opening should not become the norm and that the new plans were the start of a slippery slope. He concluded that if the proposal passes, “in the blink of an eye, the ban on selling on Sundays will be completely over.”

Thumb image credit: trabantos /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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