Clothing and footwear stores in Germany are set to be among the main beneficiaries of new shopping laws that come into force next month.

Following pressure from retail chiefs, the government has agreed to relax the legislation controlling how many hours shops are allowed to open on Saturdays.

The move means outlets ranging from huge department stores to small family-run shops will be allowed to open until 8pm on Saturdays from June 6, compared to 4pm.

Officials hope the extra shopping time will give a much-needed boost to the stagnant economy although union chiefs are threatening to organise a series of strikes if retail workers are not paid more for the extra hours.