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Denmark: Plan to Ban Large Stores in Small Towns

(Nov. 20, 2012) <?Denmark's government is expecting to introduce changes in town planning laws to limit large stores, which while offering low prices to consumers, are thought to have a big impact on local commerce. The legislature is expected to take action on the proposal in February 2013. (Ban on Superstores in Small Towns Likely, THE COPENHAGEN POST (Nov. 16, 2012).)

The revision currently being considered would ban stores of over 2,000 square meters in area from being located in towns with populations under 40,000. (Id.) According to Ida Auken, the Minister for the Environment and a member of the Socialistisk Folkeparti, the expectation is that the changed laws will discourage competition for customers between towns. “We want to make sure that the retail sector develops in a balanced manner and ensure that there are stores in small towns and villages,” she stated. (Id.)

Although a previous administration controlled by the Venstre-Konservative coalition had revised laws to impose fewer restrictions on store locations, members of the Konservative party now support the new policy because it will protect town centers. Birgitte Josefsen, speaking for the Venstre party, disagreed and pointed out that customers are willing to drive far if they cannot find what they are looking for in their own towns. (Id.)

The proposed ban has the backing of Den Samvirkende Købmænd, the association of grocers. John Wagner, the managing director of the association said, “[l]arge discount shops suck the trade out of our town centres … . In order to preserve the trade in local and grocery shops, we need new aggressive planning laws.” (Id.)