The author analyses the subject of commercial distribution by examining the main features of legislative and jurisprudential evolution in a national context. More specifically, this paper points out the restrictions on competition under the past Presidential Decree No. 616 of 1977. The author analyses the weaknesses of the liberalisation process that was initiated by Legislative Decree No. 114 of 1998, and he evaluates the consequences of the constitutional reform enacted by Constitutional Law No. 3 of 2001. On one hand, this reform strengthened the regulatory powers of the Regions but, on the other hand, it vested the State with the power to enact regulations for the "protection of competition". The author finally considers the objectives achieved by Article 3 of Law Decree No. 223 of 2006, which aimed at eliminating all the unjustified local and state restrictions on access to the market with reference to commercial activities. Furthermore, the author highlights the aspects of a possible conflict between national and local regulations, and outlines the potential role of the Constitutional Court and the administrative judges in ensuring the full implementation of the liberalisation process in accordance with the provisions set forth by national regulations.