How do varying Sunday trading regulations impact retail footfall throughout the week?

by ShopperTrak on 05-01-15

Sunday trading is a concept that seems to have divided Europe. Considered by many as a day of rest, it is common practice that retail opening hours reflect this idea – with some markets shutting their stores completely on this day.

For many years France has fallen into this category, with high streets closing up shop at the end of the week, except 5 Sundays a year. However, earlier this year it was announced that this is set to change,  with all French stores allowed to open 12 Sundays per year. Tourist areas such as Paris and select out-of-town shopping malls, meanwhile, are able to trade each Sunday to further appeal to visitors.

While this is welcome news to the retail and shopping centre community, how will the relaxation of Sunday trading regulations impact footfall throughout the rest of the week?

Over the last five years, our footfall monitor has seen a clear peak on Saturdays in France, which is by far the most popular day for consumers to head to the shops. Retail traffic across each weekday remains quite balanced – as those who can’t shop on Saturdays collect their essential goods.

What should France expect, therefore, as trading regulations change? Here are some insights into how different Sunday trading laws impact footfall across other European markets.

Stores over 3,000 square feet in the UK are allowed to open on Sundays for six consecutive hours between 10am and 6pm. Smaller retailers, such as those in airports,  train stations and village shops, are exempt from this.

Interestingly, even with Sunday availability, it still seems Saturday shopping sprees are preferred by UK consumers. In fact, the country sees +20% of its weekly footfall this day, compared to just +8% on Sundays. However, Sunday consumer activity has risen by +0.7% since 2010.

Footfall is fairly consistent throughout the rest of the week, with Thursday proving the least popular day for shopping.

Germany has some of the most restrictive trading laws in Europe – shops are only allowed to open on weekdays from 7am to 6:30 pm, and until 2pm on Saturdays. Sunday trading is still limited to train stations, airports and petrol stations.

Like the UK, +20% of Germany’s average weekly footfall is on a Saturday, with the shorter opening hours not proving the deterrent that many would assume. Fridays also prove popular, attracting +18% of the weekly footfall. Despite stores being closed on Sundays, consumers do not appear to rush to high streets the following day, with Monday’s footfall being the lowest.

In comparison to Germany, Poland has a far more relaxed attitude to retail trading, with very little restrictions on Sundays. In fact, trading hours often remain the same as Saturday, staying open until 9pm.

The rules have seen average footfall across each day of the week remaining far steadier over the last five years. Friday and Saturday are only marginally the most popular shopping days, accounting for +16% of the weekly footfall in Poland. Yet, this is compared to +12% on Sunday, and between +13%-15% during the week – so there is no obvious winner here. It’s worth noting, though, that Sunday footfall has increased +0.6% over the past five years.

As these results show, Saturday remains the most popular weekly shopping day, regardless of trading regulations – however the appeal of Sunday shopping is gradually gathering strength throughout Europe.

No doubt the relaxation of laws in France will have a great novelty factor too, so it will be crucial for retailer and shopping centres to staff their sites accordingly, and analyse footfall patterns over the next few months to see how retail traffic settles as the country embraces its new regulations.

All results are based on analysis of original FootFall data. For more information about footfall in your market, visit the trends section of our website.

FootFall helps retail businesses analyse daily footfall patterns through our Site Analytics for Retailers and Site Analytics for Shopping Centres solutions.


Read more posts by ShopperTrak