/ Shopping

Should we be able to shop for longer on Sundays?

Are you all enjoying the relaxation of the Sunday trading laws during the Games? Are you shopping at your leisure? Our Jen is enjoying it, but Charlotte hopes it won’t continue beyond the Olympics.

Jen Davis backs relaxed Sunday trading hours

I hate to sound like a cliché, but as half of a busy working couple, restricted trading hours on a Sunday can be a little inconvenient.

A sleepy Sunday may be ideal for many people, but I don’t think trading hours should make the decision for us.

Whether Sunday trading was initially introduced as a response to religious beliefs, protection for staff or to encourage us to spend time with our families, I think these rules are too prescriptive in the modern day.

It’s important to remember that the UK population has a huge range of different religious beliefs, working hours and family situations. So shouldn’t our retail trading hours reflect that diversity by giving shoppers flexibility?

Of course, I wouldn’t encourage this if it were to be financially damaging to retailers. And while I worry about the rights of retail workers – if employers are upfront and employees are still allowed to opt-out of Sunday working, I really think it could work. I worked in a supermarket while I was a student, and Sunday working slots were always over-subscribed. After all, for many students and working mums, Sundays were the ideal days to work.

As long as there’s an appetite from consumers, a financial benefit for retailers and willing workers available, I think relaxed Sunday trading hours could benefit both us and the economy.

Charlotte Slayford supports Sunday trading restrictions

Unlike Jen, I’m all for restricted trading hours on Sundays as I like to think of Sunday as a special day. I think it’s good discipline for us to not feel the continual need to buy goods at any time we want.

I dislike Saturday shopping but I get round this most of the time by doing nearly all my shopping online. Yes, the Sunday restrictions are a little inconvenient, but with local small convenience stores or mini supermarkets available, what do you urgently need to buy beyond basic groceries available at these outlets? And the fact that shops don’t open until 10 or 11am means you can enjoy a slightly slower pace of life on a Sunday.

I’ll often nip out to get a few goodies on a Sunday. I like the fact that I need to have bought what I need by 4pm, be home and get the dinner on ready for a chilled Sunday evening.

I’m also not sure that I understand the practicalities for shop staff. I worked in retail for a number of years and enjoyed the fact that I received ‘time and a half’ pay for working on Sundays (with the bonus of working fewer hours). If the shops are allowed to open beyond the restrictions I wonder if staff will still get time and a half?

And I’m not sure it’s because I just worked in sleepy towns, but the shops were pretty deserted on Sundays anyway, so I’m not sure the extra hours would make much difference.

So where does your shopping bag sit in this debate? Would you be happy to welcome the extension of shopping hours beyond the Olympics, or do you think Sunday trading restrictions should return?

Should extended Sunday trading hours continue beyond the Olympics?

No - I agree with Charlotte, restricted Sunday shopping hours should return (54%, 233 Votes)

Yes - I agree with Jen, shops should be able to choose their own hours (46%, 196 Votes)

Total Voters: 437

Loading ... Loading ...

As a 40-something, ex-retail worker, now Lecturer, I’m a luddite on this and think shopping on Sundays should be banned altogether except for DIY stores and Garden Centres, which have always been ‘odd ones out’ for Sunday trading.

There is the issue of protection for retail workers, but that isn’t my primary objection to Sunday trading.

As a nation we are obsessed with shopping. Shopping has been described, for at least 20 years now, as a “Leisure” activity.

Litle wonder then, that we are also a nation on it’s knees financially, with everyone over-spent and in credit over their heads, and a nation of obese people, who’s only exercise is to waddle from a car or bus to the shop door and then to push a trolly around.

In my view, if shopping was not available for one day each week there might be some chance of people actually doing other things, things which won’t cost much or any money, and things which might help us to be healthier.

Any anyway, with on-line trading well and truly established, we don’t need to open the physical shops on a Sunday any more for the helpless and hopeless shop-a-holics to satisfy their cravings.

As for Jen’s view regarding being at work in the week – I don;’t wish to sound rude or unsympathetic, but how do you think our parents and grandparents generations coped? We need to be better organised, as they were. After all, people of my parents’ generation lived through te war and the decades following, when there was no Sunday trading at all, there were still half day closings, many people had no fridge and hardly anyone had a freezer, the supermarket and shopping centre had not been invented, and all adults regardless of age or gender were forced to go to work, unless they had children aged under 11 at home. They all managed to shop without Sunday opening, so it clearly can be done.

I’ll don my tin hat now and await howls of anguish from people who live to shop and don’t have sufficient imagination to know what else to do………………

Completely agree Dave

Though many shops opened very early – and many women didn’t work – so could shop during the week. The problem now is both partners now mostly work full time which does limit shopping times. There is definitely far more “shop-a-holics” too many seem to live to shop rather than shop to live. I know of many “Off Licenses” that sold food on Sundays.

Thanks for your comment Dave. Don’t get me wrong – my partner and I do cope with the situation, and I’m sure we’d manage if shops were closed on Sundays altogether. My argument revolves around convenience – as a ‘consumer’, I’d prefer the choice to do our shopping (and I mean food shopping, not leisure shopping) when it’s convenient for us (which may well be a Sunday afternoon).

My parents coped because my mum was ‘stay-at-home’, as was my nan before her. My partner and I have no choice but to both work full time, and not because we live an extravagant lifestyle, but because living is expensive. The retail/lifestyle landscape has changed dramatically since my parents were my age so, in my opinion, if extended trading hours on a Sunday are beneficial for retailers, consumers and employees, I think it could be a positive thing.

In response to the ‘shop-a-holic generation’ argument, I’m afraid if this problem is as prevalent as suggested in this thread, then the abolishment of Sunday shopping as a solution may be inadequate.

Richard is right about both partners working creating a demand for Sunday shopping. It seems crazy that both should be working if they have children. If we did not have such an extravagant lifestyle, could control our shopping obsession and did things for ourselves rather than paying others, we would be able to manage with one partner working, or both working part-time. Dave points out some of the consequences.

As far as I’m concerned, we should phase out Sunday shopping. Having supermarkets open all night is probably not cost effective, so I question whether they are needed.

Where I live a family of any size – including singles – needs £12,000 a year just to pay RENT for a tiny flat – So they have to earn £6.25 an hour just to have a roof over their head – no food no clothes no heat – The greedy buy to rent landlords (a Tory invention) are making a fortune. The average family here doesn’t have an extravagant lifestyle – they have a struggling lifestyle with fear of redundancy – So they no longer try to save for the future (as there is none) – but live for the minute – as the future is so uncertain. Self-sufficiency is fine if one has the means to be self-sufficient – too many no longer do.

In my day it was easy to save up carefully for something because the future was secure and wages liveable – not any longer for far too many…

If you live in or near London you are going to be exploited, and not just by landlords. Life is not so grim elsewhere in the country.

Sorry it applies to all cities – It may be fine where you live – but not for a great number of city dwellers.who have to live there because that’s where the jobs are – I don’t think you go too near cities.

Sorry, but everything isn’t black and white. 🙂

There are big differences between cities. Now that most students live in private accommodation rather than halls of residence, the cost of renting is a major factor in determining where students choose to study, and universities in cheaper areas use the fact to promote recruitment. Thanks to Facebook and online forums it is easy to find information. Obviously family homes are different from student houses, but there is a parallel between costs.

Availability of employment is certainly a factor, but retired people can be more flexible and some take the opportunity of downsizing their home once their kids have grown up and moved out.

You really haven’t been reading the newspapers lately have you? I can only say yours is a frightfully middle class attitude – and does NOT tally with my 60 plus years of living in London.

Let’s discontinue this discussion and look for things we can agree on.

Dave says:
5 August 2012

We’ve just completed our fresh monthly shop, at a supermarket which would normally be closed. Both me and my wife work full time and have young children. We would like to see Sunday trading to be relaxed after the Olympics.

I agree wholeheartedly with Charlotte, Dave D and wavechange on this one. I have never understood how opening shops for longer did anything other than increase the overhead applied to prices – overall you don’t buy more cornflakes or socks just because the shops are open longer and Sunday workers are entitled to higher wages so the marginal operating costs are significantly higher than over the other six days. Furthermore it’s another nail in the coffin of the smaller shops which are permitted to open all day on Sundays – or might choose not to open for more than an hour or two for essentials in the absence of any threat from the bigger stores. Charlotte’s comments about on-line shopping prompt me to suggest that there might even be a case now for revoking all Sunday trading and reintroducing a half-day closure; given that different towns chose different days for their early closing it at least enabled shopworkers to do some of their shopping in a nearby town during the week. Extended opening hours with early starts, late finishes and all-night opening tend to lead to more part-time employment, irregular shift patterns, and poorer conditions of service none of which do much to promote a better quality of family life.

As someone who works in retail it is nice to know I will get to spend at least one evening a week with my family. With internet shopping and supermarkets open 24hrs a day 6 days a week we don’t need shops to open longer on a Sunday!

Alasdair says:
5 August 2012

I must point out that there is nothing in the Christian or Hebrew scriptures to justify the transfer of the restrictions imposed by the Old Testament Sabbath to Sunday. If we are to observe the Sabbath, it should be on Saturday (the seventh day), not Sunday.

Sabbath means “Day of rest”. The majority of Christian religions have chosen Sunday as that day as they believe that Sunday was the day that God rested after creating the world. That’s why in Britain Monday is the first day of the week, and Sunday is the 7th day.

I suspect that rekindling Old Testament arguments in a nation that’s been running Monday to Sunday for nigh on 2,000 years is probably a somewhat wasted effort.

Robin Gilmour says:
6 August 2012

You write as if the restricted Sunday trading hours apply to the UK, when in fact they don’t. Scotland has no such legislation and shops can open on Sundays if they wish. I believe Northern Ireland is the same and neither country seems to have a problem with it.

Quite right Robin, we talked about Scotland’s trading hours (ie. they’re not restricted on Sundays) in the previous Convo: https://conversation.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/sunday-shopping-trading-opening-hours-olympics/

I agree with you Robin, Scotland leaves it to local towns and councils to decide rather than have a nationwide ban. This seems a much more sensible option.

Tracy says:
6 August 2012

At what stage are we all going to rest? Bring the restrited hours back and give the country an enforced break…

snorkieuk says:
6 August 2012

Having lived in Germany where Sunday opening is restricted, I must say after the initial annoyance of not be able to shop the subsequnet release/freedom was extraordinary. Sunday’s were peaceful and nearly everyone could enjoy time with their families, museums, eating out and relaxing.

Now back in the UK I much prefer restricted Sunday hours removing the temptation to go to the shops. As they say in Germany you need to slow down to go faster.

As a couple who work 5 days a week and have a very young child the weekly food shop has to be done at the weekend. Getting chores done, getting out of the house and other time consuming unforeseeables, sometimes having shops on a restricted timetable on Sunday can be a massive inconvenience. I would very much like to see the laws relaxed so I wouldn’t have to spend most weekends in a massive rush.

50 years ago the working week was much longer than it is today, shops were rarely open before 6 am or after 6 pm, and Sunday shopping was banned completely, yet people managed to get their shopping done.

Are you saying that you can’t organise your life as well as your grandparents did?

Fifty years ago we did not have supermarkets,fast food, automatic washing machines, dishwashers, Facebook, computer games, DVDs, apps, unlimited texts and 50 TV channels. People used to look after their own children rather than work so that they can pay someone to look after their children. No-one even knew how deprived they were.

Have some consideration at what younger people have to cope with. Our grandparents had a very easy life indeed.

Of course.

I feel such a fool…

Rich says:
6 August 2012

Less restricted Sunday trading hours should be balanced by further mandatory closed days in addition to the token Easter Sunday closure. I suggest that no shops be allowed to open on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day with early closing on Christmas and New Years Eve.

The current 10-4/11-5 hours only create the traffic equivalent of last orders. The sky won’t fall in if a supermarket opens at 8am on a Sunday. Lets face it, shopping replaced going to church as the new religion a long time ago and the current hours were not put in place to attempt to curb this behaviour but as a compromise with religious pressure groups. Given that only a single digit percentage of people go to church (yeah I know more claim to be Christian but you’ve got to go to Church in my book to be counted), why should historical religious beliefs dicate policy in 2012?

Any town that restricted Sunday trading would die a quick death as shoppers went elsewhere, so one English rule would be preferable to allowing councils to make their own rules.

Grizelda says:
6 August 2012

I think Sundays should be a matter of personal choice.
Those who want it to be a special day, a family day or a religious day can choose to do that for themselves – no one will force them to go shopping. If it is important enough to them they will choose their occupation accordingly to allow this.

I have little sympathy for cries of “pity the poor shop workers” – a huge proportion of the workforce work weekends, nights and do shift work and still manage to see their families – do you think we should shut hospitals on a Sunday so the poor nurses can spend time with their families?

Surely any argument for restricted opening on a Sunday has now been totally undermined by being able to sweep away the restrictions for a glorified sports competition? Is God looking the other way during the Olympics? Is it OK not to see your family if you are supporting a sporting event?

As a working couple with no children I resent having other people’s values dictate how I spend my Sunday! Let it be about personal choice.

Great theory, but your wish for personal choice does affect others.

Sunday opening has already given employers in other fields the perfect excuse to expect their employees to work ever more anti-social hours.

I never thought Sunday was boring anyway, the only people who thought it was were the people who thought that ‘Hancock’s Half Hour’ was a documentary. And even those that did find it boring weren’t exactly panting at the bit to go shopping. I’ve never heard anyone complain that their life had been boring until they discovered shopping.

Face it. You’ve been conned into thinking you need to shop on Sundays. If you can’t get all your shopping done in the 144 hours of Monday to Saturday, there is something seriously wrong with your life. Let the ‘Sunday special’ people have their day of rest and do something else with your life for a few hours.

Penny S says:
12 August 2012

England must be the only country in the world that 24 supermarkets have opening hours posted outside the front door! Why make it illegal for shops over 280m2 to open on what is potentially one of the busiest days of the week? The main argument is to protect shop workers but there are many people who prefer working on Sundays and I believe that legislation is already in place to protect those who don’t. What about the rights of the workers in the small shops? Do they not matter? The other argument for restricting Sunday trade is to protect small shopkeepers. In other words it means that small shopkeepers are given a license to charge as much as they like in return for the convenience of being open when the large stores are closed. That doesn’t sound very sensible or fair to me. I actually prefer small shops to large supermarkets but I shop in the ones that provide a better product and more personal service than the large ones. If my favorite shop is closed I’ll wait until it’s open. My choice. But to restrict the trading hours of a large supermarket because some people don’t like it takes that choice out of my hands.If people don’t want to shop on Sunday that’s up to them but to stop those that do is very wrong

mark a says:
12 August 2012

Actually divide on the moral side of this debate, but question the business case. With only x amount of money available, how can Sunday opening increase store turnover.People are not going to spend more if they havent got it,just shop on different days.Surely the businesses will suffer with extra costs and no real increase in turnover.

If people spend the same amount of money, increased opening hours will just increase operating costs as you say, Mark. That will just push up prices for everyone.

In practice it does encourage people to buy more, whether they have money or they are in debt.

Good sales are good for the economy, but I’m not convinced that what is good for the economy is good for people and it certainly isn’t good for the environment. But who cares about the environment? Those of us who do aren’t going to make any difference.

Cliff says:
12 August 2012

The number of people who want to shop for longer hours on Sundays as opposed to those who don’t want to shop for longer hours on Sunday in this poll seems about equal. If the government allows the shops to stay open for those who want to shop and doesn’t force the people who don’t want to shop into the stores everyone should be happy shouldn’t they? Seems a simple solution to me.

Charlie says:
12 August 2012

I live in Melbourne, Australia. Shop hours here were deregulated about 15 years ago. When the laws changed nearly all supermarkets started opening opened 24 hours a day, 7 days of the week. In recent years some have started to close between 0:00 and 06:00 because it is unprofitable in many cases to keep them open throughout the night. Many of these supermarkets open a little later on Sunday, maybe 08:00 or 0:900 but still stay open to midnight. The system works very well. Nobody is forced to work against their will and it’s very convenient for everyone. Small stores still survive and prosper by supplying more exclusive products and more personal service.
I lived in London until 20 years ago. Small independent supermarkets in West London used to stay open until around 23:00 on Sunday nights. I’m sure they were larger than 280 square metres so things must have gone backwards since then.

I’m not quite sure where this ‘People who don’t want to shop don’t have to’ comes from. The (Roughly) 50% who are voting against extended hours aren’t all shop workers and Bible bashers, so a large percentage of them must be people with some other reason for their opposition. I’ll lay odds a lot of them are people who are one half of a pairing where one partner doesn’t want to go shopping because he just plain doesn’t like it and would very much like a good reason for not being able to.

A strange justification I’ll grant you, but can anyone come up with a better explanation?

Its not that im really against trading on Sunday per-se but what I don’t get is our obsession with buying ‘stuff’. I’m 40 and remember those adverts for holidays on the telly after Christmas day, now its all sales. We shop for Christmas and then when we have time off we shop some more. It’s pathetic really. We work all week and in our free time we shop. We shouldn’t need Sunday to shop. If all shopping was banned on Sunday we wouldn’t starve and for most other stuff there’s the internet which usually beats the high street on price. I frequently visit Italy and shopping doesn’t seem such an obsession there.

Some people seem to be acting as though people only work 9 to 5 and are all church-going Christians whose cupboards are never bare.

Those of us who DON’T work 9 to 5, have no faith or different faith, have young kids / older dependants who need stuff, are disorganised, or just like shopping should all have a RIGHT to spend their money when they want.

Actually, this policy is just a protectionist policy to give independent shops (& the Co-ops) a leg up because – in my view – they are not big enough to offer low prices, a wide range or good enough service to compete with larger stores. Independents need to sharpen up in order to thrive, not be mollycoddled by our nanny state.

…and some people seem to be acting as though just because they work longer hours than are legal, have kids and/or dependants, are disorganised, or just like shopping, the rest of us shouldn’t have the right to one day of the week without having the threat of shopping hanging over our heads.

I don’t actually believe that anyone is so disorganised that Sunday (But not the bit of it when the supermarts are open) is the only day they can find to do the shopping, and since you appear to have several smaller shops open around you, you could always go there to shop. It’s what people did before the supermarkets and they all survived the experience.