: When Americans go to Germany, the big cultural difference that hits them in the face is store hours. It’s a very inconvenient place. And a high German court just ruled it’s a matter of constitutionality to keep it that way.

: Heiko’s unhappy.

  • Walter Wallis

    I remember when you could not buy fresh meat in California on a Sunday even if you found an open store. Damp white cloths covered everything but the prepared meats like lunchmeat and hot dogs. I never found out what would happen if you reached under the white cloth and brought a steak to the checkout, because I didn’t buy steak all that often.
    Our blue laws were every bit as annoying as those in Germany. Sundays in shopping centers used to be very quiet.
    The under use of investment, like the under use of talent when women and blacks are kept out of the job market, can make the difference between a growing economy and – well, Europe.

  • Chris

    I lived in Munich 1999-2001 and the idea that stores should be closed on Sunday for religious services really is a joke – church attendance in Germany is negligble these days. And of course there are stores open on Sunday (a bakery in my neighborhood, anyway).
    Kaufhof has a good case, but the country as a whole is really in the tank for whatever the unions want to do. Security over convenience rules the day, a fundamental difference between the US and Germany.
    No surpirse that FDR borrowed from Kaiser Wilhelm to develop the Social Security system.

  • daudder

    different is not bad…its just different. experiencing and respecting local traditions, customs and social mores is part of traveling to other places. I remember marveling at the inefficency of siestas in Spain and Italy during the summer vacation, until i sat back and enjoyed them!
    don’t bemoan the absence of stripmalls and 24 hour shopping, enjoy their absence.

  • Except, daudder, that most people in Germany want stores to be open past 8pm. The only people who don’t want them opened are the small shop owners, and they seem to have a lot of political power.

  • Irving

    How timely. I just was discussing this yesterday and used the European “store hours” point as an illustration of an aspect that helps to differentiate American culture as distinct (it’s not singular to America, but is one of an amalgum that makes American Culture).
    American Culture is centered around the individual. Work whatever hours you want, shop whenever you want, and American Culture will cater to you (accept you) as any other. European Culture is centered around the State/Society. There you are pressured to conform to a standard either by dress, work/shop hours, or by class. Oh, there’s overlap between the two cultures, but the emphasis is different.

  • True enough, Irving, but it’s interesting that the individualistic American system has produced immense rows of giant box stores and fast-food outlets, all exactly alike from coast to coast, and the socialistic European system has preserved independent, quirky shops that allow people to be their own bosses and work reasonable hours. Funny how things turn out.

  • David: preserved is the right word for it. Like a specimen in a jar of alcohol.
    It’s fine if a shop owner doesn’t want to stay open late. It’s not fine (to my free market capitalist way of thinking) for him to use the law to impose his standards on every other shop owner. Not only does he impinge on their economic freedom. He also makes it more likely that the 24-hour economies of the U.S. and Asia will out-compete his country.