/ Shopping

Should Sunday trading laws be abolished altogether?

Last week the government announced its plan to relax Sunday trading laws during the Olympics, giving shops the option to open for longer and take advantage of a spending boost during the Games.

But should the law be changed permanently to bring Sunday shopping in line with the rest of the week?

George Osborne proposed in last week’s Budget that Sunday trading laws should be relaxed for eight weekends from 22 July, allowing larger shops to open for longer than the six hours they’re currently permitted.

The aim is to maximise the amount of cash foreign visitors will spend on our high streets, with some analysts predicting it could bring in up to £200m.

That would be a welcome boost for British retailers at a time when shops are continuing to struggle, thanks to the economic climate and tough competition from online retailers. So why not make the change permanent?

Your views on Sunday shopping

We put this question to you last year, and the responses were mixed.

In our poll, just over half of you said shops should be able to open for as long as they like on a Sunday, a quarter wanted to keep things the way they are now and another quarter wanted Sunday shopping laws to be even stricter, making it a no shopping day.

Commenter Mark was in the latter camp:

‘We lost something valuable as a country when Sunday became a normal shopping day rather than a day for family, rest and relaxation. The freedom of some to shop or use other services on Sundays comes at the expense of those who have to work to serve them when they might want to spend time with their families.’

But Vince argued that extending Sunday shopping would be far more convenient for some:

‘Yes, longer hours mean more hours worked by staff, which is good and bad depending on your situation.

‘I work lots of hours in an eccentric shift pattern over a six day week. Sunday is my best chance to get groceries in, and if I snooze after taking the dogs on a really long Sunday walk I stand a good chance of another week of unplanned drive-by shopping…’

Open all hours

Longer Sunday opening hours would make my life easier. I hate doing my weekly shop on a Saturday afternoon, as supermarkets are far too busy at that time, but if I shop on a Sunday I sometimes struggle to get there before the store closes at 4 or 5pm.

But if I consider the issue beyond my own needs, it becomes more complicated. The Association of Convenience Stores claims that the government’s plans will cost local shops up to £480m.

Whether that figure is accurate or not, abolishing Sunday trading laws is likely to mean more bad news for independent convenience stores. Why? Because local shops can currently open on Sundays, with the trading laws only affecting large stores.

Would you like to see Sunday trading laws abolished? Or should the Olympic’s Sunday opening hours be a one-off?


It is not for a government to interfere in the decisions of whether a retailer chooses to open at any hour they wish (including the 25th of December and January the 1st), for an employee to work or not work on a Sunday or any other day, nor to interfere in the consumer’s desire to shop at the premises if they wish to do so.

Just because some find a particular day significant, does not give them carte blanche to coerce others to see that particular day in the same terms that they do. Peoples lives, provided they do not impinge upon the liberty of others lives, are none of our business. If only bureaucrats and “Keep Sunday Special” adherents would realise this.

Smiff says:
31 March 2012

Allowing businesses to operate whenever they want does not come at the expense of anyone, it is simply freedom to do as you please. Those who do not want to work or shop on Sunday do not have to, but it is not fair to restrict those who do.


“Those who do not want to work or shop on Sunday do not have to, but it is not fair to restrict those who do.”

Quite. Live, and let live?

It is astonishing how many of us cannot seem to realise that what is good for us may not be good for another, what we think is ‘fair’ may be unfair on another.


Yes and no. I fear that large companies will try to intimidate employees into working, so these employees should have the protection of tougher work laws to defend their choice not to work on a religious day. And yes, if enough staff are willing and able to work and the store feels there’s a need to be open, then sure why not. I for one hate seeing huge signs saying open 24/7 hours yet I know the store is closed the majority of Sunday, late Saturday night and early Monday morning. So not really 24/7.


“I fear that large companies will try to intimidate employees into working, so these employees should have the protection of tougher work laws to defend their choice not to work on [their] religious day.”

AFAIK, employers already have to accommodate the religious observances of employees reasonably.

barney473 says:
1 April 2012

Do I live in a parallel universe? But I can go shopping any time during the week so what’s the fuss? Why shouldn’t I be allowed to go shopping any time? I ran my own business years ago and it ran 24/7, it wasn’t illegal and my staff were happy to work WITHOUT being forced to. As far as religion goes, have you been to church recently? Very few people attend now-a-days and it’s not because the shops are open.

1 April 2012

as a shift worker including sundays i agree that sundays need to be relaxed, lots of people are working in a different way now especially with childcare so freedom to do what you like when you like is what is needed here.
The shops cant take more than they do, just a shift of when the money comes, when sunday trading started in the early nignties i was working on the ordering side at asda slough there was a shift from what was taken on the other days yes sunday was taking a days money but this reflected on less being taken on the other days particually monday and tuesdays, no shelf filling happened between fri and monday night (in those days) as prior to sunday trading there was a sunday fill who retrained to do other duties thus not taking on to many sunday rated staff, staff that worked in the rate did not usually work sundays so those of us that did recieved double time so it was good for those that wanted to work as the low wages were boosted, what has happened since then is the terms and conditions have changed to working sundays, no pressure was needed for staff to work and i believe its a myth that that pressure is put on to staff to work.


Until recently used to holiday by car in north-west Europe. I noted that it was the norm the for shops to close at lunchtime on Saturday and not re-open until Monday morning. I’m appalled by the high percentage of people who vote for shops to be able to open whenever they wish. I’m not talking about small corner shops and the like who usually do not employ anyone. Any shop of whatever size, which employs its staff, should have proper regard to its employees and (in my humble opinion) that means those employees having the same rights to enjoy a weekend off as the rest of us. There is, I submit, no way that the opening and closing of shops seven days a week is a necessity with the possible exception of pharmacies. The cry is we must consider shift workers. I worked shifts for most of my working life and I never found it a great inconvenience to have to fit my shopping patterns to the opening hours of the local shops. We have become a very selfish nation with a widespread view that the reasonable rights of shop workers must be subjugated to the whims and desires of shoppers.

flyingdoc says:
24 August 2014

Why should the “rights of shop workers” be more important than the rights of other workers. Nurses police fire ambulance staff have had to work 24/7 365 for ever.


“Any [business] should have proper regard to its employees…[where they have] the same rights to enjoy a weekend off as the rest of us.”

I venture that this discussion is starting off on some misunderstandings. Citizens as employees do not have legal or human (natural) “rights” in regards to working and non-working days, only that they fulfil their contractual hours and obligations that they mutually -and more importantly voluntarily- agreed with their employer and in line with Employment Law. If they wish not to work on the weekend then they are, or should be free to do so, if they do not wish to, they are not obliged to (unless they agree contractually).

An employee can work any number of hours they wish, and Saturday and Sunday are days just like any other – if an employee wants to work some hours on the weekend and less during the week – it is entirely their business. Who am I, who are we, to suggest otherwise?

“Rights” are often misunderstood as a thing that we think that we are entitled to, or an “I want”. They are nothing of the kind. Some rights are legal, some are natural and intrinsic on the account of simply being a Human being, such as Life, Liberty (Freedom) and Property (the fruit of one’s labour or work). Every human possesses Natural rights. (See http://www.thephilosophyofliberty.com

Business thrives and is won by those who respond to the market and their clients. My Grandfather, a Hotelier and Caterer always said “You can’t be sentimental in business”

Again, Just because we find a particular day or days significant or not to be worked on, does not give us the authority to coerce others to see those particular days in the same terms that we do, and vice versa. Neither should that authority to coerce the direction of the citizens life lie with the government. Peoples lives, provided they do not impinge on the way that others lead theirs, are no-ones business but their own.


No- there are enough days, and times to go shopping, I dont have any religious views, just like the idea of a day which is different from the rest. Most supermarkets are already open 24 hours a day in the week. and there’s enough time in the current Sunday opening times. Soon it will move to all industries, and we’ll all be working 7 days a week.


And what of those who work most days? my brother for example works five jobs, Monday to Saturday, at different hours each week.

“Most supermarkets are already open 24 hours a day in the week.”

Not so: Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, E. H. Booth’s, Spar, Co-op, Somerfield, Morrisson’s are not open 24 hours five days.

“Soon it will move to all industries,”

Un-manned mechanised industries perhaps,

“we’ll all be working 7 days a week.”

Only if we want to. Though we have to remember there has to be enough of a labor force not working on enough days to be shoppers and consumers when everyone else is working, otherwise the streets will be empty as a eunuch’s underpants.

pete says:
7 April 2012

i woud like to know wether it is legal for me to open my small plant nursery less than 280sq mtrs
tomorrow (easter sunday )


Yes, as your plant nursery is under 280sq meters, you can open whenever you like. You are exempt from the Sunday Trading Act 1994. You could open 24/7 every single day of the year if you so wished.

pete says:
8 April 2012

thankyou adam05 for answering my query ,this is first time opening for me on easter sunday
Kind Regards Pete


You’re welcome. Happy Easter, and Happy Trading! 🙂

Jayne says:
9 April 2012

I cannot believe how selfish some people can be. Perhaps your commentators do not realise that anyone now starting work in the “big four” supermarket where I work now are given a contract which states that they will work on any bank holiday, whether they are contracted to work on that particular day of the week or not, if the employer requires them to do so, as well as having to work over the weekend. So much for freedom to work when we choose. Most people have the choice whether to go shopping on a Sunday or not and with internet shopping and 24/7 opening during the week there is little excuse not to shop during the week. Would those who ask for us to work on each and every bank holiday (my store now also opens Boxing Day and News Years day) and now want extended Sunday opening feel as inclined to work each and every weekend and bank holiday if their employer suddenly told them that they had to. Please don’t ask us to work more hours. I do have a young family and would desperately like to spend more time with them when they are off school. Don’t suggest a change of job as this is a difficult job market for everyone, let alone those with family commitments.

Annie may says:
6 July 2014

Other families, like mine who are single parent families with young children who commute and work very long hours full-time do not have the option of doing their grocery shopping during the week and aren’t at home enough to do online shopping and have it delivered, I would really appreciate being able to do a quick shop on a Sunday evening so much. Can’t at least ONE supermarket be open Sunday evenings then??? Please!!!

Annie may says:
6 July 2014

Why can’t they make a law that allows supermarkets to be open Sundays all day but also a law that states Sundays cannot be forced to work on or added to contracts, like staff have to opt in to work on a Sunday? Everyone wins!


“[The supermarket where I work has] a contract which states [employees] work any bank holiday, whether they are contracted to work on that particular day of the week or not”

That’s a contradiction in the employment contract is it not? Or at least unclear.

How can an employee agree contractually both to NOT work AND work on a particular day of the week?

David Sizer says:
23 April 2012

All shops should be allowed to open on a Sunday for however long they wish.This is the 2012 not 1947,however i do believe that no one should be forced to work.The same should apply to all banks.People want to shop Sunday,London is a major tourist city,with shops closing at 6pm,Easter Sunday is bad enough with the closure of all shopping areas.Please move forward in life.This country has many people without a job,i am sure that they would be more than pleased to work until late Sunday evening.

sarah says:
2 May 2012

if shops should open longer on sundays ect why dont childminders and nurseries open on these days? sundays should be family time. sunday trading laws should be stricter or if not just stay the same!!!!


What about single people who live alone or people who do not want to spend time with their family, and would rather work? I’d rather work longer.


“If shops should open longer on Sundays, why don’t childminders and nurseries open on these days?”

It’s not a matter of ‘should’ open but CAN open, but only if there are willing staff to meet the desires of consumers wanting to shop on that day.

As for Nurseries and childminders/nannies etc being open on Sundays, there’s nothing stopping them. The demand may not be high enough?

“Sundays should be family time”.

Not for those without families, children or singletons. Any day is for anyone to spend as they see fit. “Should” only applies to our own time. What people want to do or not do on a Sunday is none of my business.

“Sunday trading laws should be stricter or if not, stay the same!”

On what basis?


In todays society there is absolutely no reason to have everything open 24/ 7 except profit chasing greed. We are living faster and more intensely than ever before, we need a sanity day when it all shuts down and we are forced to take a days rest.
I would like to see a reintroduction of the old Sunday laws which kept virtually everything closed, and Saturday made an optional day, not as is now compulsory in most areas.

The current work, work, work lifestyle we have is too intense, destroys our health, robs us of too much of life’s natural enjoyments and is bad for families.
We need to redress the work life balance, not bow to the selfish few who want what they want now, irrespective of the cost in human terms.
No matter how closely we monitor, or how many laws we introduce, people are and will be forced to work on Sundays against their wishes.

Very early on it was found if you work your people 7 days a week without a break , they die off a lot quicker than if they get a break, so biblically the Sabbath was invented to prevent people being worked to death. One days rest for contemplation meditation and a little fun, recharged the batteries to go out and do another 6 days hard graft.


But lots of people only work part-time, so may only work 2-3 days a week anyway. And if people want to work 7 days a week let them. Nobody would be forced, it would be optional, if we work 24/7 other days why can’t we manage another. Factories operate 24/7/365. I don’t want to spend time resting or with my family, I want to be out working on Sundays, longer because it means more money and I enjoy it too.


The point is people are forced, maybe not many are actually directly threatened, unless a sinister, ‘but you do like working here don’t you’ when you explain you cannot work this Sunday, can be viewed as a veiled threat.
Pressure is put on people who just cannot afford to lose their jobs to do as the company requires, that means working unsocial hours and having to place work ahead of family life.

If people work part time, so what, they have 6 days to choose from, why should that result in others being forced to forgo one day of rest?
As for people being allowed to work as they wish. We have many restrictions on the number of hours we can work without a break, and the rest period we must have between shifts. All of this legislation is to protect workers against exploration by bosses who will gladly work their staff until they drop dead at their posts [the way we used to].
Have we moved so far from those days that we have forgotten the Mills & Mines and just how dreadfully exploitive and inhumane unfettered working conditions can become.

Many people fought and died for better and humane working conditions, now we want to throw all this protection away for what? the chance to make an extra £50.
And as for factories working 24/7 365, why are they allowed to do that it is completely unnecessary, we [the world] massively overproduce goods anyway.


Again, just because we find a particular day or days significant to be worked on, or not to be worked on, does not grant us us the authority to coerce others to see those particular days in the same terms that we do, and vice versa. Neither should that authority to coerce the direction of the citizens’ life lie with the government. Peoples’ lives, provided they do not impinge on the way that others lead theirs, are no-ones business but their own.

“If people work part time…they have 6 days to choose from, why should that result in others being forced to forgo one day of rest”

It does not result in others forgoing a particular day of rest, if any of us want want to have Sunday off then go ahead, and vice versa for those who want to work.

” factories working 24/7 365, why are they allowed to do that, it is completely unnecessary”

“…[the world] massively overproduce goods anyway.”

Consumers demanding those goods would appear to disagree. We we don’t have to buy those goods. If it were not for production economies of scale, our mobile phones would still be $4000 and the size of housebricks.


It would be lovely if we could take a days rest on whichever day we chose, but this is impracticable, hence the selection of 1 day for all, in our history Sunday has become that day. The religious significance is the baggage that came with it and should not detract from the necessitates of allowing workers rest and recovery time.

The reasons that I [a look at my previous postings in different areas will find I am strongly against Government intervention in most areas] would back a dictate in this area is because in previous eras when employers are given free rein, [with the exception of a few] they will literally work people to death, removing them as they fall for fresh labour. History has proven this time and time again, it is only the Government / rulers/ sovereigns who have the power to dictate that the factory / mill / mine owners etc.. must treat their employees with a little humanity, hence in this case we have to rely on our ‘leaders’ to do the right thing and protect us all. Of course this cannot be done in a way to please everyone, but it does have at its root the desire to protect us all [now there’s a statement to conjure with!].

As for over production, modern consumerism is not driven by need, it is driven by desire created for things that are mostly unnecessary, the needs vs wants debate. I do believe that companies create desire through advertising, than feed this desire gaining maximum profits before creating the next trend.
The driving force behind mobile phone technology, was not intense production but competition for a created market, now we have thousands of mobile phones, all doing roughly the same thing becoming obsolete in a few months to be replaced with similar items, all draining Earths limited resources of rare metals. What happens to these phones? In 5 years most of what you see today will be in a landfill site or on a third world scrapheap being stripped down by some of the poorest people on the planet, and bits sold for a days food.
In reality we could probably manage with about 5 different mobile phone types. The same goes for most of this planets consumables, from batteries to airplanes to cardigans to saucepans. We produce too much and most of it is not for convenience, or betterment of mankind, but to sate the greed of a few money hungry cooperation’s.

I do agree with the sentiments, that we be allowed to work as we like, and do as we like [without causing harm to others], but in todays greed driven world it is just not possible.

rifhat sabbar says:
22 October 2012

i think there should be no restrictions on trading hours. people should be able shop whenever they want to. i don’t think it will effect the smaller shops, people shop in smaller shops because its closer to their home or they want to buy small items. i don’t think them being open on sundays gives them a huge increase in profit.

Tracey says:
9 December 2012

To the person felt that a superstore was to busy to shop in on a Saturday…lmao = Sundays are horrendous and attract a different breed of shopper.
The trading laws state continous trading of 6 hours only on Sunday starting at 10am , the superstore I work for is edging things a different way and to my mind breaking the law currently. In all the Sundays I have worked as a temp, only twice have they advised shoppers that they are closing and that was around 4.10pm, (ho hum closed at 4pm), the rest of the Sundays no announcement.
Our Supervisors tell us that we are not to leave our tills 4.30pm or until the last customer has left the shop, coming up to Xmas this means as told to me no announcements to customers, and if it means being on the till till 6.00pm so be it afterall I’m Xmas temp (won’t tell you how the superstore duped me into the job after applying for a permanent post, fuming yes, but getting people off JSA means you have no option, working for this store is like doing time!!, and the store very much understands what JSA requires its recipients to do when applying for jobs!!!).
The store is taking the michael, the customers are blissfully unaware of trading standards, and they have now come to expect the people on the till are there for their use as and when. What they don’t realise is the liberalism they are being allowed to perpetuate by the superstore is only because the store wants to extend its hours on a Sunday and thus will be able to claim there is a need.
In truth the only need there is, is theirs = money/profits. For those that say there aren’t enough hours given due to their work demands, baloney, we managed before simply by planning ahead which utilised some of the businesses that the superstore has now forced out of business. I find it strange that a large portion of the public are willing to be dumbed down. Moreover as is a popular conception amongst shoppers, due to their ‘wanting’ to shop on a Sunday means we are no longer paid double time, whilst serving them who get to choose what they wish to do with their Sunday and family, and at the same time expect us idiots not to want to finish a shift and be with ours!!!!!!!!!!!

Cameron says:
14 December 2012

Freedom comes at a price. Whilst I believe freedom is a good thing, if the big supermarketscan keep on making inroads into types of shop or trading hours etc. that previously were the domain of small traders, will people be happy when more small traders go out of business?

In addition, people don’t need to eat more or have more televisions, or clothes or anything else just because shops open longer, but the shops may have to employ more staff, so prices may creep up.


Well I take the Bible Sabbath on a Fri-evening to Saturday, so if I was to open a store I’d open Saturday evening for a short while, and then a bit on Sunday (though later start and earlier finish than Mon – Fri). Sunday usually ends up being a spare day for me too though due to more rest observance being put on Sunday despite it not being a Sabbath.


As a Christian who believes Saturday is the Sabbath day, and that I don’t have permission to change the day, so this is the day I don’t shop or work, at least until it gets dark. I am well aware that in today’s world, Saturday is usually a busier day than Sunday with more shops open, and less Saturday trading laws (except in Jerusalem). I usually do my shopping either on Sunday or Friday afternoon as my job often finishes at similar time to the closing of smaller stores by the time I’ve got through traffic.


If I was non-religious and had free reign of opening hours, I’d probably close on a Monday when more people were at work, but wouldn’t force employees to work either Saturday or Sunday.


An update for you:

Plans to overhaul Sunday trading laws in England and Wales have been dropped after they were rejected by MPs.

The Commons opposed proposals to allow councils to extend opening hours by 317 votes to 286, as 27 Tories rebelled.

Ministers had sought to limit the rebellion by promising to trial the changes in 12 areas but said afterwards they would respect MPs’ views.