Lugner legal bid for Sunday shopping

A Viennese entrepreneur has revealed plans to launch legal action over the Austrian Sunday shopping ban.Richard Lugner, whose Lugner City shopping centre opened in 1990, said today (Tues) he had assigned a lawyer to file a complaint to the Federal Constitutional Court (VfGH) about current regulations.Federal law disallows shops of all kind to do business on Sundays with a few exceptions like souvenir stores in tourism hotspots.Lugner, who made a name for himself by inviting international celebrities such as Grace Jones and Pamela Anderson to the Vienna Opera Ball, said he planned to open his mall on three Sundays ahead of Christmas. The 78-year-old added he also considered extending current Saturday opening hours.”The tourism branch has been granted some exceptions since there is allegedly a demand – and there’s no such demand ahead of Christmas?” the businessman, who ran for federal president in 1998, said.Lugner stressed his mall did well when it did business on Sundays during the Euro2008 after town hall decision-makers issued a temporary bylaw.”We achieved around 55,000 Euros turnover per hour in those six hours we opened our doors on Sundays two years ago. During the week, we only made around 30,000 Euros an hour,” he explained.Lugner’s plans to go to court may fuel the ongoing debate on the topic as they come just days after Swarovski manager Andreas Braun attacked lawmakers over the same issue.Braun, who masterminded the creation of the crystal maker’s 1,200 square-metre store in the city centre of Vienna, branded the Sunday shopping ban “‘schizophrenic”.”Some fed-up, envious locals have been fighting Sunday business-making with pseudo arguments,” he said about the situation in Vienna in a newspaper interview.He added: “We are not allowed to do business in a city which would like to be a glamorous metropolis. This is schizophrenic.”Swarovski invested 15 million Euros in the shop in Kärntner Street which opened in December 2009.Meanwhile, Austrian Hotel Industry Association (ÖHV) President Peter Peer warned the capital was risking becoming less popular for tourists from all over the world if it continued to ban trading on Sundays.Peer said a survey showed the city’s trade would rake in an extra 50 million Euros a year if all stores were allowed to do business on Sundays. Around 325,000 more overnight stays would be possible as well, he claimed.