Austrian minister calls for liberal opening

Austria's finance minister has weighed into the debate over shop opening hours with a call for complete liberalisation.

Karl-Heinz Grasser, the only independent minister in the conservative far-right coalition, said an overhaul of the Catholic country's opening hours was vital to enable Austria to compete with the rest of Europe.

A change in the law last month allowed stores to open for 72 hours a week rather than 66, and until 9pm on weekdays rather than 7.30pm.

But Grasser said this is not enough to make Austria an attractive shopping location and added that Sunday opening should be introduced. He said: 'We must not allow ourselves to lag behind the rest of Europe. We cannot allow weekend tourists to find closed stores.'

Grasser added that jobs would be created through extended opening hours.