Italy's League Revamps Plan to Close Shops on Sundays, Holidays

(Bloomberg) -- Lawmakers in Italy’s governing coalition are pushing ahead with a proposal to close shops on Sundays and holidays despite opposition from businesses concerned about lost revenue and competition from e-commerce sites.

A League lawmaker, Andrea Dara, will file a new draft measure to a parliamentary commission either Wednesday or Thursday, he said in an interview with Bloomberg News.

"The new proposal takes into account discussions and meetings with industry bodies and is a compromise of positions by the different parties," he said.

Dara said the new version will partially ease restrictions on businesses, but it will include limits on opening hours during twelve different holidays. He declined to comment further on the draft, which hasn’t been made public yet.

Plans to ban Sunday shopping were originally announced by Italy’s government coalition partners, the Five Star Movement and League, after they took power in June. But they were then shelved after strong opposition from businesses and industry groups.

20% of Sales

Sunday shopping represents 10 to 20 percent of total sales according to a study by Bain for Confimprese, an industry group which represents 300 commercial brands with 30,000 sales outlets. Previous proposals to regulate Sunday opening hours could have resulted in a sales loss of about 18.5 billion euros ($21.1 billion) for retail networks.

After it’s filed, the bill will have to be discussed by a commission and will then have to be approved by Parliament.

Introducing limits on opening hours during festivities could put further strain on Italy’s retail sector.

Shares of Italian retailer OVS SpA collapsed 80 percent last year as nine-month sales were adversely affected by “very unfavorable weather” and the company was forced to suspend its dividend to make up for competition from e-commerce and lost revenue from store closings. Earlier this month, Stefanel SpA, which manufactures leisure clothing, was granted a pre-insolvency creditor arrangement by a local court.

“In a period of stagnation like the current one, this type of measure would be very negative and add to the economic slowdown through lower consumer spending and higher unemployment, while also putting investments at risk,” Mario Resca, chairman of Confinprese, said in an interview.

“It would also be a big gift to Amazon and online retailers that are open 24/7.”

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