City Council and Barcelona shops decide to open every Sundays and bank holiday during summer

The plan is for the measure to come into force next year and increase activity by more than 13%

3 min
A worker carries boxes of clothes on Passeig de Gràcia in Barcelona.

BarcelonaNew historical milestone achieved by the pandemic and e-commerce. The impact that the two factors are having on trade in Barcelona has led to an understanding that until recently seemed impossible: an agreement so that stores can open every Sunday and bank holiday between May 1 and September 30. Two of the entities representing the sector, the foundations Barcelona Comerç and Barcelona Oberta - the second of which is a splinter of the first, precisely after disagreements around this issue - have explained on Monday that they have begun the process to make this happen in Barcelona starting next year, once they know that they have the support of the city council.

In fact, it was Jaume Collboni, first deputy mayor, who explained that they expect that such a measure would increase commercial activity by 13%. In addition, they believe that this would generate 3,200 jobs. In fact, it is partly thinking of simplifying the recruitment that they want to allow opening hours on days like this to be from 12 noon to 8 in the evening. First, because it is the time when - according to their studies - more people buy, and then because then there would only be one shift to think about.

Despite all this detail, the plan provides that the rule does not come into force until next year. As explained by the councillor for Commerce and Market, Montserrat Ballarín, they hope to have all the necessary documentation in about 15 days and take it to the economy and finance commission on June 16, They will seek the Generalitat's approval on June 23. The calendar is thus designed to dodge another major problem: in August the decree regulating business hours in Barcelona expires, which would mean opening times would revert to the Spanish standard.

"In 2012 there was a reform of the Spanish law on business hours that said shops in tourist areas can open every day of the year and at any time, provided that the autonomous community decided not to restrict [opening times]," Ballarín explained. Since then, relatively consensual agreements have been signed so that Barcelona's commerce does not enter these dynamics, and the last one expires on August 3. If a new agreement were not adopted, the Spanish law would come into force," explained the councillor. That is, total liberalisation of areas, opening dates and times.

Competition is e-commerce

The current agreement dictates that only certain Barcelona shops can open five Sundays between May and October. "With this 2016 agreement it was complicated to get a message across to tourists in the city, because even we had doubts about zones and timetables," said Salva Vendrell, president of the Barcelona Comerç foundation. "It was not difficult to reach the [new] agreement because we understood that after a year and a half of the pandemic and with the incursion of large platforms, we had to make a change," he justified.

Barcelona Oberta, an entity which was founded precisely with the idea of pushing to be able to open on Sundays and holidays, also celebrated the agreement. Its president, Gabriel Jané, has defended that it is a very beneficial pact for the city and that it represents the 46 commercial axes that exist.

If so far they had not agreed, said Ballarín, is because there was a faction that was very convinced that allowing shops to open freely in the centre of Barcelona would have a negative effect on neighbourhood shops. "This has changed completely due to e-commerce: neighbourhood commerce already knows that its competition is not in the city centre, but platforms that are open 365 days a year and 24 hours a day," concluded the councillor.

The calendar for 2022 in Catalonia

Also this Monday the Generalitat's Department for Business and Labour has published the bank holidays in which shops will be allowed to open, in this case at Catalan level, for the next two years. This, which apparently clashes with what the City Council was presenting in parallel, is the rule Catalan municipalities that do not have regulated schedules at municipal level will have to follow. If Barcelona manages to move forward with its plans and the Government approves the proposal (and the City Council are convinced that the high level of consensus achieved between associations will mean this will happen), this will not affect the city. In towns and cities that do not have their own regulations, shops will be allowed to open on 2 and 9 January, 6 and 26 June, 15 August and 6, 8 and 18 December in 2022.