French boutiques fight to stay open on sundays Paris(Ap)Most places in france, you can't shop on sunday.The champselysees is an exception sort of.You can buy tshirts at the quiksilver on paris' most famous avenue, but not at the gap.You can browse for cds at virgin megastore, but forget luggage at louis vuitton. French businesses and unions have battled for years over whether sunday should remain a day of rest, worship and leisurely family lunches, and the tugofwar has left behind a patchwork of baffling regulations on who can sell what and where. Now, two highprofile legal battles have raised the question again.Supporters say sunday shopping would help cut the 9.3% unemployment rate, and point to a poll suggesting threequarters of Parisians like the idea. But the courts have ruled and the answer is no. The debate resurfaced after louis vuitton opened a new store last fall on the champselysees an airy, 21, 500squarefoot temple to handbags and high fashion with the intention of opening sundays.Vuitton says 70 of its 300 employees were hired for that purpose and willing to work, and the shop had permission from the top local official. But two groups filed a lawsuit the national clothing federation, known by its french initials fnh, and the french christian labor union, or cftc. Charles melcer, president of the fnh, argues that france's consumer spending would not increase by even one euro if stores were open sunday.At the heart of his fears is that only big chains have enough staffing to stay open, which would force france's cherished neighborhood shops out of business. "We in france don't want that,"Melcer said. Vuitton, meanwhile, argued that it met the complex criteria for opening sundays, which include being in a touristy area and having a cultural, recreational or sports dimension.The company pointed to the store's bookstore and art gallery, which was open to all, not just shoppers. But in late may, paris' administrative court ordered the shop to close sundays.Vuitton said it would appeal, and in a statement, called the decision"Totally incomprehensible. "Officials declined further comment because of the appeal. Throughout europe, laws differ vastly.In sweden, most shops stay open sundays.Poland's stores are open, but the roman catholic church has been fighting to force shopping malls and supermarkets to close.The church is leading Cheap Louis Vuitton Bags UK a similar battle in croatia. In germany, during the world cup, retailers are being allowed to open sunday, though the 1949 constitution mandates sundays as a day of rest from work and"For the promotion of spiritual purposes. "Retailers and politicians are watching the world cup experiment to see if might be expanded down the road. In france, where most people no longer go to church, exceptions are the rule.Under the champselysees' regulations, quiksilver can sell tshirts because it also sells surfboards and other sports gear, but gap cannot.Virgin megastore, which waged its own battle years ago, can open because it has a cultural dimension.But vuitton which opened its first champselysees store in 1914 cannot. The closed shops leave foreign tourists perplexed, said dominique rodet, an official with a committee that represents shops on the avenue.About 80% of the 500, 000 people strolling on the avenue every sunday are foreigners, she said. "For paris' image, and on an economic level, it's very harmful,"She said. Outside paris, an outlet mall called usines center has been Louis Vuitton Luggage waging a battle similar to vuitton's. For 20 years, the mall with 140 shops and 600 employees has been open sundays illegally.Never mind that http://www.klfr.co.uk/ usines center is just a few miles from the chateau of versailles. Officials"Know the law is old and stupid, and at the same time they don't want to change it, because of catholic tradition and social issues,"Said jeanpatrick grumberg, president of usines center's association of shop owners. Demand from the public is there:Grumberg says usines center gets at least 35% of its Buy Louis Vuitton annual revenues of 92 million euros($116 million)On sundays. On the mall's behalf, the ipsos polling agency conducted a survey in april that found 75% of people in paris and the suburbs favored sunday shop openings, and only 24% were opposed. Meanwhile, the fnh and two other groups have waged a battle against usines center's clothing shops.While a 2005 court decision allowed them to stay open, an appeals court in versailles overturned that decision june 14, ordering them to close. Since then, the mall's shops are staying open sunday on a technicality as they await formal notification of the court decision. If need be, grumberg say they will take advantage of another loophole shops can open sundays if the owners and their immediate families are the only ones who work.Which means, he says, that 80 other mall employees could lose their jobs.