A quiet revolution is silently taking place with tight-lipped retailers in buttoned up Berlin. Well, sort of. Up until now, powerful unions and other sinister forces in Germany, living in some bizarre, Rhinelandish time warp, have been able to hold the lid on liberalizing the ridiculously restrictive opening hours in this ridiculously restrictive country. But starting today, shops in Berlin will be allowed to remain open around the clock. There goes the neighborhood, folks.

The law passed on November 9th allows stores in the capital city to stay open 24 hours a day and other German states are now planning to follow suit. The federal government decided to let the states decide these matters for themselves this summer, seeing store hours as being more of regional issue, and state governments, with Berlin leading the way, have reacted relatively quickly.

Stores in Berlin will still remain closed on Sundays and holidays (there are a few exceptions allowed during the year), however.

The real question is whether or not stores will actually want to lengthen their opening hours. The big retailers still need to discuss the matter with workers’ representatives and figure out if this will really be worth it for them or not (you have to pay the people working longer hours). German shoppers have been raised well and have always shopped when they were told to and are not necessarily going to buy more just because shopping is more convenient for them.

Convenience is still a strange concept here, you see. Convenience in terms of being convenient for the customer, I mean. But who knows? Maybe this could be the start of something big – or longer, anyway.

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