Large stores to close for Christmas

New law will cause many stores to be shut for the holidays

Most stores larger than 200 square meters will close at noon on Dec. 24 and remain closed on Dec. 25 and 26 due to a recent law that took effect in October. Dec. 24 is called Štědrý den, and is when most Czech families celebrate Christmas with a big family meal, exchanging presents in the evening. Dec. 25 is called 1. svátek vánoční, or first Christmas holiday, and Dec. 26 is 2. svátek vánoční, or second Christmas holiday. It is also sometimes called St Stephen's Day.

Pharmacies, gas stations, and stores in airports, hospitals and train stations are not included in the law. Stores under 200 square meters, such as local grocery stores, can also remain open.

The idea behind the law is to allow workers time to spend with their families. Unions have long advocated in favor of the law.

Hamley's toy store on Na Příkopě will be closed all day Dec 24. Furniture stores IKEA and Kika will also be closed that day.

Electronics e-shop Alza.cz will open its main Prague shop in Holešovice Dec. 26 for pick ups and returns of items. The store maintains that since the sales take place online that opening the store for pickups does not violate the law.

Shopping malls will have varying hours. Some opponents of the law argued when the law was passed that rules for malls were not clear, as the law did not spell out if they were seen as one big store or a space with many small stores. Most malls interpret the law as not applying to them, as the shops are each in general under 200 square meters.

Metropole will see most stores close at noon on Dec. 24, but fitness centers will be open until 1 pm and cinemas until 5 pm. The shopping mall at Černý Most will be closed Dec. 25 but open on Dec. 24 to 2 pm and on Dec. 26 to 9 pm. Palladium in Prague will also be closed Dec. 25 but be open Dec. 24 to 5 pm. On Dec. 26 its shops will be open to 6 pm, the supermarket to 9 pm and restaurants to 11 pm. Some malls and cinemas have not yet posted their holiday hours.

Fines for violating the law can go up to Kč 1 million, and be five times higher for repeat offenses.

Not all state holidays are covered in the new law. Aside from the three Christmas holidays, the law covers New Year’s Day on Jan. 1, Easter Monday, Liberation Day on May 8, Czech Statehood Day (St. Wenceslas Day) on Sept. 28 and Independent Czechoslovak State Day Oct. 28.

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