A Polish law banning almost all trade on Sundays has taken effect, with large supermarkets and most other retailers closed for the first time since liberal shopping laws were introduced in the 1990s after the collapse of communism.

The change is stirring up a range of emotions in a country where some feel workers are exploited but many others see consumer freedom as one of the most tangible benefits of the free market era.

The law was proposed by the trade union Solidarity, which says employees deserve Sundays off, and found the support of the conservative and pro-Catholic ruling party, Law and Justice.

The influential Catholic church, to which more than 90% of Poles belong, has welcomed the change.