Opening hours for retail stores

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All retail stores are subject to mandatory closing hours during which customers are not allowed to access the store and during which direct sales are prohibited.

The General Directorate for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises may grant:

  • a global exemption to the totality of stores active in one or more trade or craft sectors upon joint request from a professional organisation or communal administration.
  • an individual exemption valid for 24 hours per year upon request from the shop owner.

Who is concerned?

The mandatory closing days and hours must be respected by all retail stores – in other words every commercial or craft business or activity whose purpose is:

  • the direct sale of merchandise, articles and goods;
  • the provision of services to the end consumer.

Small local retail stores run by a single person assisted only by members of the family must comply with the same mandatory closing hours as any other retail store.


The following retail stores can remain open on Sundays and public holidays until 18.00:

  • butcher's shops;
  • bakeries;
  • cake shops;
  • catering services and delicatessen;
  • tearooms;
  • newspaper, souvenir and tobacco shops.

The following activities are not subject to mandatory closing hours:

  • establishments from the HORECA sector (hotel, restaurant and café);
  • catering services provided by delicatessen stores outside their premises;
  • funeral services;
  • fairground traders taking part in local festivals, fairs and other authorised events;
  • businesses taking part in fairs and exhibitions, even for the direct sale of their merchandise if this is covered by a ministerial authorisation;
  • newsagents, tobacco stores, butchers’ shops, bakeries, cake shops, delicatessen, flower and souvenir shops inside train or bus stations;
  • airport shops;
  • mechanical repair workshops for cars and motorcycles, as well as paint and bodywork shops for the repair and towing of motorized vehicles and the sale of fuel, lubricants, spare parts, accessories or maintenance products;
  • taxi and ambulance companies;
  • services to be provided in case of emergency or force majeure;
  • cinemas and stores in a cinema or cinema complex selling only articles directly linked to the art and culture of cinema.

How to proceed

Mandatory closing hours

Customers are not allowed access to retail stores and direct sale to customers is prohibited:

  • before 06.00 and after 13.00 on Sundays and public holidays;
  • before 06.00 and after 19.00 on Saturdays and on the day before a public holiday (except on New Years Eve, Christmas Eve and on the day before the National Holiday where the shops must close at 18.00 at the latest);

Closing hours on Saturdays and on the day before a public holiday can be pushed back to 20.00 within the framework of a collective agreement between the social partners (employers and the unions).

  • before 06.00 and after 20.00 on other days.

The closing time can be pushed from 20.00 to 21.00 once a week.

Exemption from mandatory closing hours

Collective exemption

Traders or craftsmen may exceptionally obtain a temporary exemption from mandatory closing hours from the General Directorate for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises on request from:

  • an employers’ organisation represented at national, regional, communal or local level;
  • the administration of the commune.

Exemptions from mandatory closing hours can only be granted to the totality of retail stores or other stores as a whole from specific commercial or craft sectors but cannot be extended beyond 21.00 o'clock.
The exemption cannot go beyond 13.00 on Sundays.

Individual 24-hour exemption

Operators of retail stores can be granted the individual right once a year to keep the shop open for 24 consecutive hours beginning from the moment the shop normally opens.

The operator must submit a written application to the General Directorate for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises at the latest 1 month before the event.

The 24-hour opening can be granted for a particular one-time sales event in order to promote the shop's articles or its trading name.

Such waivers to mandatory opening and closing times for retail stores do not exempt from compliance with the applicable provisions concerning working hours, Sunday and night working and working on public holidays.

Who to contact

General Directorate for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises

Related procedures and links



Legal references

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