Ruling in favor of the Catholic and Lutheran churches, Germany's highest court has found that the city of Berlin's ten shopping Sundays a year go against the constitutional protection of Sundays as a day of rest.
Germany's Constitutional Court ruled on Tuesday that shops must close on Sundays, and that legislation in Berlin allowing for ten shopping Sundays was unconstitutional. Germany's Basic Law protects Sunday and public holidays as "days of rest from work and of spiritual improvement."
Berlin legislation passed in 2006 had allowed shops to remain open up to ten Sundays a year, including the four Sundays before Christmas. The Catholic and Lutheran churches had challenged the change and took the issue to the nation's highest court.
"Legal protection measures must recognized Sundays and public holidays as days of rest from work," said Hans-Juergen Papier, president of the Constitutional Court. "A mere economic interest in revenues and the basic desire of potential shoppers to buy does not justify allowing these shops to be open as an exception."
The protection of Sundays in Germany's Basic Law is a holdover from the Weimar Constitution of 1919 and can be found in Article 139.
The shopping Sundays already planned in Berlin for the Advent season this year will take place despite and the ruling will come into effect in 2010.