Updated: Friday, 04 April 2014 19:11 | By Agence France-Presse

Top French court rules in favour of ban on night-time shopping

A top French court ruled Friday that a ban on late night openings for most retailers is not unconstitutional, in a blow to cosmetics chain Sephora that wants to keep its flagship Paris store open until midnight.


Top French court rules in favour of ban on night-time shopping

Security guards shut the doors of French cosmetics maker Sephora's flagship store on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on October 9, 2013 - by Lionel Bonaventure

The much-anticipated decision comes as France debates whether laws banning late night and Sunday openings for many retailers -- designed to protect workers -- should be upheld at a time of economic hardship.

Until September, Sephora had been keeping its main Champs-Elysees store open until midnight on weekdays and up to 1:00 am on Fridays and Saturdays to capitalise on demand for late-night shopping opportunities from tourists visiting the French capital.

But a court ordered the chain to stop the practice, prompting Sephora, whose Champs-Elysees store makes 20 percent of its total earnings in post-9 pm sales, to take the ruling to the Constitutional Council.

This court rules on whether laws and regulations respect the constitution.

Under France's labour law, companies can ask employees to work between 9:00 pm and 6:00 am but such shifts have to be "exceptional" rather than the rule and meet a tightly defined set of criteria.

Sephora had pleaded that the law could infringe on "freedom of enterprise".

But the court ruled that it provided the right balance between the freedoms needed to manage a company and requirements on "protecting the health and rest" of workers -- a decision that Sephora said it was "disappointed" with.

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