French Sundays

I remember when shops in Sydney and the suburbs were closed from 12 noon on Saturdays and didn’t reopen until Monday.

There were no shopping centres open on Sundays. No grocery shopping at 10pm weeknights, let alone on a Sunday. Thursday nights was late trading. Every other days, shops closed at 5.

Somehow we coped.

Lots of friends at school had retail jobs which were set Thursday nights and Saturday mornings – the “extended” trading days.

Young people, those without part time jobs, hung out at the shopping centre on Thursday nights. It was very quiet walking through Sydney shopping malls on a Saturday afternoon or after 5, even in the main shopping district. Everything was closed.

Slowly, hours have been extended.

Now most supermarkets are open till 9 or 10pm on weekdays, and both days of the weekend. Likewise shopping centres are open on weekends. Sundays have become the main grocery shopping day. Hanging out in shopping centres seems to be a national pastime, something families do.

The convenience of shopping whenever we want has meant we don’t need to plan ahead. Of course, it’s helpful for shift workers, like nurses and such. The extra opening times has created more part time jobs in retail.

But the cost?

  • There’s no quiet time.
  • There’s no dedicated time for families.
  • We’ve become a nation of shoppers.
  • “Going to the shopping centre” is a family activity.
  • We are fatter and in debt.
  • Lost income. Now we are an “open all hours” country, loading for working on weekends is being cut. If there’s no such thing as weekends or family time, why should employers pay more.

I was struck by how quiet Sundays were in France. Trucks are not allowed on the highways on Sundays – the roads are kept free to visit families.

Here’s a post from an English ex-blogger who has moved to France.

I know we can’t step backwards, and change expectations. Though, while I do like the convenience of shopping, I could readjust.

So do I shop on Sundays and check the workers get the extra loading, or do I go back to a slow Sunday?

What’s your view on Sundays? Do we shop too much? Should we have a day of rest, a day to go slow, to visit family?

15 thoughts on “French Sundays

  1. Here in the U.S. some large grocery stores are open 24 hours a day. The one closest to us closes at midnight. The only day they close completely is Christmas, with some half days on other holidays. It is excessive. Though we shop for groceries on Sundays these days. It’s easier with our work schedules. But I would definitely cope if shops closed on Sundays. It might be nice if there was one day people couldn’t shop. But here in the land of consumerism that will never happen.

    Starting maybe 10 years ago I cut way back on other shopping. Now it seems like such a pain the handful of times a year I go to the mall.

    • We have 24 hour supermarkets too. I think there were more a few years ago but the shops realised the gimmick did not attract the worth of hiring people to staff the shops.

      Well done on the cutting back on shopping. I am trying to be more mindful in my shopping, and only go into centres if I need something.

  2. I recall Brisbane being slow to Sunday trading and shocked by Sydney’s midnight supermarkets in Strathfield and inner city when I moved here in 2003.

    As a regular church attendee, I interestingly don’t feel I miss out on anything. Which is to say, Sunday mornings seem sacred in that few people suggest plans or contact me. The occasional bfast request but those friends and I usually eat out together other evenings and mornings – it’s an additional option not the only option.

    I used to do chores on Sunday when I lived in France. And settled into a routine dinner out with other students to end the weekend. But… I do recall being flat or bored a bit? Pre wifi and Netflix days!!

    I should say: I often get anxiety feelings in westfields. Or occasionally at a grocery store. Not debilitating but enough that I wanna get in and get out stay.

  3. I absolutely love the system in France. Many times people still do the traditional Sunday family lunch because everything shuts down.

    People rest. Recuperate.

    That said, I shop 6:30am Sunday mornings because when do working families shop? I start work 8am weekdays and with meetings, finish at 5pm 2-3 nights per week. And I can’t be bothered shopping after a 9 hour day at work.

    Would I change if we were France? Yes. I’d shop on the way home from work and save an extra car trip on Sunday. And would probably be happier with a day of rest on Sunday.

    • We shop on Sundays too. And it works in with our busy life. But maybe part of the whole go slow and be organised, I may look at redoing Sundays to be fun days and rest days.

  4. Since I live 35 miles from the nearest mall, and have only been in one once in the past five years (and that was only to accompany a visitor who wanted to go), shopping is obviously not high on my list of things to do. Since I have retired, I try not to grocery shop on weekends, leaving it to those who have no choice. Most people where I live have very long commutes (mine was 50 miles one way) so between work and the commute, they are away from home a minimum of 10-12 hours a day so no time before or after to get things. I must admit that when I worked, I did my grocery shopping v.v. early on Sunday mornings to avoid Saturday crowds. An introvert’s nightmare.

    • You’re doing well keeping out of the shops, Mary. With a distance like that, I’d keep out too.I live about 16miles from the centre of Sydney and go in for work and theatre, but rarely for shopping now. If it was double, I’d go even less frequently.

      I’m not an introvert, but can’t stand the Saturday crowds too.

  5. I am a strong believer in Sunday open hours and Sunday shopping. As a single parent who worked every other Saturday, I absolutely needed those Sundays to buy groceries, kids clothes, sports gear, school supplies, etc. Saturdays had swim lessons, birthday parties, school fairs, and so on, leaving Sunday as our only day that was really “off.” And we were church goers too, so we did our shopping on Sunday afternoons.

    I don’t think malls and shopping are a “thing” any more. When I do go to the mall on weekends, not many families or teens are hanging out. I think people mostly go to comparison shop and then buy the things online. And go to the mall Starbucks. More and more physical stores are closing. The crowds are at the farmers’ markets!

    There is lots of family time and quiet time available. It’s just that everybody chooses to spend it in their own rooms on their own devices.

  6. I was just telling the offsprings the other day how shops used to shut at 1pm on Saturdays and that was it for the weekend! And late night shopping on Thursday and Friday nights only. Inconceivable! Chaos works at the local supermarket, and his shifts are the very unfriendly 5-10pm shift. When I was his age, I worked in a little bookshop that was open Saturday and Sundays when nothing much else was open, so it did a roaring trade after lunch and after church (there was a church across the road!) Then, when I was a bit older, I worked in hospitality for a while. A Sunday off was sacred!

    Now, I work Monday to Friday, I do as many “going into town” chores as I can during my lunch breaks, and try to get everything else done on Saturday so I can have Sunday’s “off” – doesn’t always work, but occasionally… And I do get a bit snakey if things get oganised for Sundays.

    • 5 to 10pm is not only unfriendly, it’s unfamily. When The Dreamer first got shifts that ended at closing, ie 9pm for the shop, he hated missing dinner with the family. He still does but has kind of got used to it.

      The bookshop sounds divine.

      • It’s beyond unfamily friendly… Reg normally drops him off, and I normally pick him up. But by 9.45pm, I want to be in ma comfy pants and with my feet up, not trekking about the countryside collecting teenagers. And it totally ruins my meal plans (because it’s ALL about me, lol) – it’s not as bad when there’s two shifts in a row, then he can take the first night’s dinner on the second night. But this week, he’s working tonight and Sunday night.

        The bookshop was wonderful. If I’d done all my jobs, I could read between customers!

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