On November 17th, all stores in the Czech Republic are open. This date is an exception to the controversial law on store opening hours, which aims to allow shop employees to spend certain holidays with their families. However, the law has provoked negative emotions among many merchants and confused their customers as it does not apply to all holidays, including November 17th.
The law on store opening hours has two main criticisms in the public eye. First, it applies only to stores with a sales area over 200 square meters, which disadvantages these larger stores compared to their smaller counterparts. This negatively impacts merchants’ annual revenue and has led to accusations of discrimination. In 2017, business associations even filed a constitutional complaint, asking for the law to be abolished.
Another weakness of the law, which has been in effect since 2016 and regulates not only the holiday opening hours of some stores but also bazaars, pawnshops, and collection points, is that it applies only to specific holidays. Specifically, there are seven holidays plus Christmas Eve, when stores more significant than the mentioned 200 square meters can only open in the morning.
November 17th is a significant Czech Republic date commemorating two critical historical events. In 1939, all Czech Universities were closed, and 1989, the Velvet Revolution began. On November 17th, 1989, a permitted demonstration took place to mark the 50th anniversary of the closure of Czech Universities. After the official end of the rally, many demonstrators marched into the city center to express their disagreement with the then-communist regime. The police gradually encircled the demonstrators on National Avenue and brutally beat them, which triggered the so-called Velvet Revolution that led to the fall of the communist regime.
November 17th is not just a holiday but also a day that the public participates in widely. Many cultural, student and accompanying events are held, as well as demonstrations.