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Hungarian gov’t plays “God” with Sunday shop closures

“The multinational foreign-owned retailers are intentionally being driven out of the country.” – Ferenc Dávid, secretary general of the National Association of Entrepreneurs and Employers

Hungarian news website Portfolio.hu has filed a freedom of information request with Hungary’s Ministry of National Economy to see the impact study showing how the forced closure of retail stores on Sunday’s will affect Hungarians.

The ministry responded that the bill was introduced by an individual member of parliament (like the vast majority of laws past by the Fidesz-KDNP-controlled parliament over the past five years), and that for this reason the Ministry of National Economy does not have any such impact study regarding the effects of the law.

Gergely Csiki of Portfolio.hu reached out to the Ministry of the National Economy because, according to his article, the Sunday store closures affect

  • 870,000 households go shopping on Sunday,
  • 60,000 businesses are directly engaged in retail activities,
  • 260,000 employees work exclusively in this sector, and
  • practically every Hungarian family that shops on days other than Sunday.

This means that prior to the law being passed absolutely no thorough or professional analysis of the law’s effects was carried out to assess how it would impact employment in the affected sector, or employment and Hungary’s economy in general.

Late last year Csiki asked the ministry whether any studies had been performed regarding the effects of the law, to which the ministry responded that

  • total retail revenues in 2013 where HUF 4800 billion, and of this only HUF 350-400 billion was generated on Sundays but (after the passing of the law) this revenue would be generated on other days,
  • the law will primarily affect retail companies with higher revenues,
  • the number of people working in retail depends on GDP growth, not on whether people can shop on Sunday,
  • the law’s effect on the economy will be minimal and temporary, and
  • 13 EU countries have similar laws which keep retail stores closed on Sunday.

Industry experts say the government wants to be God

Ferenc Dávid, secretary general of the National Association of Entrepreneurs and Employers, appeared on ATV’s Egyenes Beszéd (Straight Talk)  with Olga Kálmán last night to discuss Sunday closures.

“The multinational foreign-owned retailers are intentionally being driven out of the country,” said Dávid.

He says the structure of the law and the way it determines which stores must be closed is a clear indication that the law unduly targets two particular retailers, Spar and Metro.

“It’s no coincidence that everyone refers to the law Lex Spar and Lex Metro,” he said.

Dávid also says there is a clear message being sent to Hungarian civilians, consumers, voters and businesses by the group responsible for “forcing the law” onto the country.

“Those who forced this law through are sending a message [to Hungarians]…. they want Hungarians to know and realize that they can play God. If [this group] wants to close stores on Sundays, they’ll do it regardless of what it costs….regardless of the fact that it costs [the consumers] more.”

Referenced in this article:

Utána se számolt a vasárnapi zárva tartásnak az NGM, Index.hu; 18 March 2015.

Csukjuk be a boltokat vasárnap, számok nélkül?!, Portfolio.hu; 18 March 2015.

Benjamin Novak :