Sundays from noon to 8pm: extended commercial timetables in force in central Barcelona
Shops will be able to open all days from May 15 to September 15, as employees fear being forced to work on Sunday
Stores in central Barcelona and its surrounding neighborhoods are now allowed to open also on Sundays from May 15 to September 15, that is, from this Sunday.
The local council requested the Catalan government to extend the commercial timetables in summer in order to boost tourist expenses, and the petition was granted in late April.
All shops in central Ciutat Vella and Eixample districts are allowed to open all Sundays and bank holidays from noon to 8pm during the summer season, as well as some neighborhoods in the Sants-Montjuïc, Les Corts, Sarrià-Sant Gervasi, Gràcia, Horta-Guinardó, and Sant Martí districts.
In February, commercial entities Fundació Barcelona Comerç and Barcelona Oberta alongside business associations PIMEC Comerç, Foment del Treball and Associació Nacional de Grans Empreses de Distribució and trade unions CCOO and UGT agreed on the measure with the local council.
'More difficult work-life balance'
Yet, some workers are skeptical – CCOO and UGT major unions say the pact allows employees to freely choose whether to do the Sunday shift or not, but another union, CGT, warns that doing these shifts voluntarily will be "anecdotic," since a lot of work contracts include the possibility of working on Sundays.
"This will bring a more difficult work-life balance," said CGT's Hèctor Rustarazo, working at Apple Store in central Barcelona. "It boosts consumerist tourism where no differences can be found between Barcelona, Paris, Rome or other European cities," he added. "We have a unique country with a unique history and more things to offer tourists than shops."
Commercial entities: 'historic' agreement
Meanwhile, commercial entities who agreed the new timetables say it is a "historic" measure that they had requested for years, and it will put an end to the "confusion" stemming from the fact that it was permitted to open stores on certain Sundays, but not most of them.
Barcelona Comerç's Salva Vendrell told the Catalan News Agency (ACN) that stores smaller than 300 square meters were already allowed to open all days, and the current measure only affects those bigger than 300 square meters.
Facing criticism of some employees' organizations like CGT, a committee to make sure the agreement is complied – not only timetables, but the fact that working on Sundays is voluntary for employees – has been launched by those who are backing the measure.
Tarragona is one of the other Catalan cities seeking to launch extended timetables like Barcelona.