"Golden Sunday" Returns: Austrian Non-Food Retailers Allowed to Remain Open on December 19

More+Events ♦ Published: December 17, 2021; 12:43 ♦ (Vindobona)

In an attempt to recoup some of the billions of euros retailers lost out on due to the lockdown in the middle of the holiday season, the Austrian government has announced that non-food retailers will be allowed to remain open on Sunday, December 19 for what is known as "Golden Sunday." Learn which stores the exception applies to and when you can do some last-minute Christmas shopping on Sunday.

Federal Minister for Digital and Economic Affairs Margarete Schramböck: “Austria is in for a long shopping weekend." / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons / Gugerell / CC0

Due to the recent lockdown in Austria, non-food retailers ​​lost out on around € 2.7 billion in sales during the busiest shopping season of the year.

In order to help these companies recoup as much of their losses as possible before the holiday, the Austrian federal government, in cooperation with the governors and social partners of the nine federal states, has announced that it is allowing for a one-time return of “Golden Sunday.”

On Sunday, December 19, the non-food retailers that were forced to close during the lockdown will be allowed to open nationwide from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. As anyone who lives in Austria knows, shops are usually forbidden from opening on Sundays.

Supermarkets and drug stores are not included in the regulation and must remain closed on Sunday, as usual.

Special consideration has been given in the supplementary collective agreement to staff with care obligations or individual challenges in getting to work. In principle, employees will earn double time and get an extra day off. Additionally, apprentices may not be employed on December 19.

Regarding the opening, Federal Minister for Digital and Economic Affairs Margarete Schramböck said, “Austria is in for a long shopping weekend. Shopping is open to all who are vaccinated or recovered in compliance with the FFP2 mask requirement. Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures.”

Rainer Will, the CEO of the Austrian Retail Association, said, “We are very pleased that the social partners agreed on our proposal today and that December 19th will be the golden Sunday for Austrian trade. We hope that As many crisis-ridden small and medium-sized enterprises as possible can afford to open.”

The last time a “Golden Sunday,” where retailers open on the last Sunday before Christmas, occurred was in 1961. It was then banned due to pressure from the church.

While many people have used the lockdown to complete their holiday shopping online, there is still a week before Christmas, and the return of “Golden Sunday” has retailers hopeful that they can make up their losses from the many last-minute shoppers still searching for gifts.

Austrian Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs

Austrian Retail Association