/ 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.