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Shoppers will have a few more hours to find those perfect Christmas presents as places such as the Luisencenter in downtown Darmstadt. Under new German laws, shops are now allowed to stay open 24 hours a day, Monday through Saturday. Many stories, such as the Luisencenter's anchor store, the Karstadt, plan to stay open until 10 p.m.on Thursdays, which is three hours longer than normal.

Shoppers will have a few more hours to find those perfect Christmas presents as places such as the Luisencenter in downtown Darmstadt. Under new German laws, shops are now allowed to stay open 24 hours a day, Monday through Saturday. Many stories, such as the Luisencenter's anchor store, the Karstadt, plan to stay open until 10 p.m.on Thursdays, which is three hours longer than normal. (Matt Millham / S&S)

HEIDELBERG, Germany — If you’re an American in Frankfurt, your shopping opportunities, if not your buying power, have just increased dramatically.

New extended shopping hours just enacted by the Hessen state government are up against two realities: a 20-month low in the U.S. dollar, and, more impressively, the long-standing traditions of German retailers and workers.

Hessen shops are now allowed to stay open 24 hours a day, six days a week. Sundays are still a day of rest, except for four days each year, six hours a day.

No Hessen stores contacted this week said they’d be open for 24 hours, and determining which stores are extending their hours could take some diligence. One large retailer, Karstadt, said some of its stores would be open until 10 p.m. But those evenings varied from location to location.

Starting on Dec. 1 in Frankfurt, Karstadt will be open until 10 p.m., Thursday through Saturday. But in Darmstadt, the 10 p.m. closing starts Dec. 7, and it’s only on Thursdays until Jan. 25. The store will then assess if it wants to continue the practice. Also in Darmstadt, Galleria Kaufhof will be open Thursday until 10 p.m.

In Wiesbaden and Hanau, no immediate changes were planned to the long-standing hours of 9:15 a.m. to 8 p.m., but that was subject to change, officials said.

The change in Hessen’s shop hours are among similar actions taken throughout most of Germany after a federal court decided that German states and not its federal government should decide when stores may be open. Germany had for half a century instituted the most restrictive shopping hours in Europe.

In Rhineland-Pfalz — which includes Kaiserslautern and Baumholder — hours were legally extended to 10 p.m. on Monday through Saturday and eight days were designated as legal for 24-hour shopping. But shopkeepers were still talking about plans.

Germany’s rules regarding shopping hours date to 1956 and, despite numerous challenges, have endured with only slight changes.

In Bavaria, the most conservative and Roman Catholic state and home of Schweinfurt, Bamberg, Würzburg, Garmisch and Grafenwöhr, no change is planned. The most liberal shopping hours, in fact as well as law, are expected to be in Germany’s most urbane, unchurched city: Berlin.

Moni Koch contributed to this story.

Extended hours

Here are Frankfurt stores trying longer hours

Monday through Saturday until 10 p.m.

Bijou BrigitteConrad ElectronicC & AGaleria KaufhofSaturnWoolworth

Thursday through Saturday until 10 p.m.

Appelrath & CüpperHugendubelH & MKarstadtParfümerie DouglasPolandSchuhhaus Görtz

Friday and Saturday until 10 p.m.

Peek & CloppenburgStrauss Innovation

Thursday until 10 p.m.

Wormland

Source: City of Frankfurt Web site

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Nancy is an Italy-based reporter for Stars and Stripes who writes about military health, legal and social issues. An upstate New York native who served three years in the U.S. Army before graduating from the University of Arizona, she previously worked at The Anchorage Daily News and The Seattle Times. Over her nearly 40-year journalism career she’s won several regional and national awards for her stories and was part of a newsroom-wide team at the Anchorage Daily News that was awarded the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.
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