The summer heat draws many Hungarians to their own Riviera, Lake Balaton, to cool off. It has helped the resourceful CEO of supermarket chain CBA find a way to bypass the much-criticised Sunday shops closure. His new magic weapon was about three kilograms of raspberries, which allowed the CBA in Balatonfenyves
to sidestep the ban and reopen.
As a reminder: initiated by junior government partner KDNP, the law prohibiting Sunday shopping began on March 15. Shops less than 200 square metres could keep trading if the owner or a close relative manned the counter.
Owners of bigger stores have been looking for loopholes ever since. However, the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán shows no sign of relenting, such as giving in to the idea of relaxing the rule at least for Balaton in summer.
The idea to reclassify a large store to a “market” is not new, since the law does not say that Sunday closing applies to markets per se. However, up until now it looked like no one wanted to be the first to try, because the legal requirement for a market is quite formulated.
According to its logic, any building or territory can be declared a market provided it includes more than one shop or stand. The local notary can decide if a shop should be regarded as a grocery store or a market. In the case of CBA Balatonfenyves, a lady with about three kilograms of raspberries was enough.
Left-liberal daily newspaper Népszabadság talked to the raspberry seller and found that she had been selling her fruit at a market about 200 metres away until the CBA management “lured her over”.
This new joint business seems to have paid off tremendously, at least for CBA. On the Sunday Népszabadság donned its swimming trunks and looked in, all four cashiers were operating at top speed with at least ten people queuing in each line. The decision to declare the CBA next to the largest open beach of the village as a “market” is likely to bring about a whole series of such requests elsewhere.
If more shops are allowed to reopen on Sundays, some of the 2,000 workers who have lost their jobs due to the change in the law may be able to earn their living again.
No you don’t: government
The government will insist on rules that prevent work on Sundays, government spokesman Zoltán Kovács has told public TV. Kovács was responding to press reports that an outlet of Hungarian supermarket chain CBA near Lake Balaton had arranged with the local council to be declared a market, allowing opening for business on Sundays. Rules allow farmers’ markets to be held on Sundays, and the CBA shop set up stalls in its foyer for this purpose but there was only one farmer selling fruit there, according to the reports. “Any such attempts must be quelled,” Kovács told news channel M1. The government will stick to its decision on keeping most shops closed on Sundays and will assess the results this year, he said.