/ 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?

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.