After much brouhaha in the Puerto Rican Senate and House of Representatives, la Ley de Cierre (lit. "the closing law") has officially been abolished by the legislative assembly. This means shops can now remain open on Sundays from 11AM until midnight. Previously, nearly all commercial establishments were required by law to close at 5PM, except for those located in tourist areas. Critics of the now defunct Ley de Cierre have long called for its demise, as tough economic times calls for even tougher economic measures. Longer shopping hours means having the opportunity to do more business, especially during the holiday season. On the other hand, workers' unions, which are extremely powerful in Puerto Rico, were strongly against extending the Sunday workday because it would result in workers having less time to spend with their families.
One of the major obstacles in this debate was over wages. Unions demanded double pay, while the retail and consumer industry groups called for time and a half. The latter prevailed. This past Sunday, we took advantage of the new shopping hours for the first time. I found it wonderful not having to rush around. Plaza Las Américas, the island's largest shopping mall, now closes at 7PM. Some supermarkets close at 9PM, it all depends on the retailer. So, did I end up doing more shopping this past Sunday? Unfortunately, the answer is a resounding "yes!" It felt strange being able to shop past 5 PM, but it's something which I will certainly get used to.