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French to ease Sunday shop ban

The French Government pledged yesterday to ease a general ban on Sunday shop openings, injecting a limited dose of flexibility into the highly regulated retail sector.

The Socialist government is eager to defuse a standoff between retailers and labour unions over the Sunday ban, which some employers say is holding back hiring.

With unemployment at a near record 10.9%, when stores can open has become a hot political question for President Francois Hollande's government.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said the ban should stay but that laws should be revamped to reflect Government findings.

"We must find a temporary solution for certain difficult cases.

"Sunday is not a day like others and we don't want it to become one," he said.

He said new legislation would be proposed next year and that in the meantime DIY stores would not be forced to shut every Sunday.

Hardware stores Leroy Merlin and Kingfisher-owned Castorama have risked hefty fines to open on recent Sundays in the Paris region in defiance of a court order to close.

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