If it gets the signatures, the bill would most likely be examined after the February election.
“People say: ‘It’s nice to have shops open on Sunday.’ But I don’t make extra sales on Sunday,” says Aldina Orlandini, who has run a clothing shop in a busy downtown street in Reggio Emilia, an affluent town near Bologna, since 1978.
Ms. Orlandini says deregulation hasn't hurt her business, since her store can count on a steady pool of customers. Still, she says, the measure is just wrong.
“People have the right to rest one day per week. Am I not a human being? Don’t I have a family?” Orlandini says. “The law should mandate a day off.”
But for Mauro Bussoni, the vice director of Confesercenti and the coordinator of the “Free Sunday” campaign, the problem is more systemic. “This measure favors certain retailers,” he says.
Deregulation hasn’t increased sales, and it has only increased costs for small businesses, since putting together shifts during the holidays is easier for big stores, which are more able to pay the extra costs, including overtime, Mr. Bussoni argues.
Bussoni says he fears that without regulation of the days and hours stores can operate, a competition will emerge in which only the fittest survive at the expense of mom-and-pop operations, which are already being hit hard by the recession. Istat, Italy’s statistics bureau, recently reported that retail sales for October 2012 were 3.8 percent lower than in October 2011. The process, he says, would change the face of Italian cities, threatening the quality of life of people, such as senior citizens, who rely on neighborhood stores.