London 2012: Sunday trading law suspension bid for Olympics

 
Olympic Stadium Ministers hope people visiting the UK for the Games will take advantage of a Sunday trading law hiatus

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Sunday trading laws will be suspended by the government on eight weekends from 22 July during the Olympics and Paralympics.

In his Budget, George Osborne proposed emergency legislation so large shops in England and Wales can trade for more than six hours.

"When millions of visitors come to Britain... we don't want to hang up a closed for business sign," he told MPs.

But campaign group Keep Sunday Special called the plan "profoundly worrying".

And shopworkers' union Usdaw warned its members "vehemently opposed" the idea.

General secretary John Hannett said: "The government's own consultation just last year showed there is no widespread support from either retailers or the general public for change.

"Deregulation would have a very detrimental impact on the lives of millions of shopworkers.

"Shopworkers are entitled for their views to be heard before any decisions of this importance are made."

Analysts, though, predict the move could lead shoppers to spend £200 million more, with shopping comparison website Kelkoo saying almost half of the extra money would be spent in London.

'Without debate'

But ministers hope to see the proposal passed by Easter.

Speaking to BBC One's The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Mr Osborne said: "We've got the whole world coming to London and the rest of the country for the Olympics.

"It would be a great shame - particularly when some of the big Olympic events are on Sunday - if the country had a closed for business sign on it."

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said there should be proper consultation and careful consideration before implementing change.

London 2012 - One extraordinary year

London 2012 One extraordinary year graphic

"George's people have told the newspapers this is an experiment to change it for the future, breaking up centuries of tradition," he said.

Church leaders acknowledged the Olympics would be a special time, but said they were likely to oppose the move.

Rev Sally Hitchiner, of St John's Church in Ealing, west London, told the BBC: "We're concerned it could become a precedent, we could lose some of the specialness of Sunday.

"Sunday should be a time for relationships, a time when we put some boundaries on consumerism, so you can go to the park and play football with the kids, and take your mum breakfast in bed."

Start Quote

Any relaxation... would erode our existing, popular, Sunday trading rules ”

End Quote James Lowman Association of Convenience Stores

The Sunday Trading Act 1994 states that shops over 280 square metres in England and Wales are restricted to any six hours of continuous trading between 10:00 and 18:00 on Sundays.

And they cannot open at all on Easter Sunday.

The law also includes measures to protect the rights of shop workers who wish not to work on Sunday.

By temporarily suspending these rules, the government hopes visitors heading to London for the Olympics will take advantage of longer opening hours, boosting flagging retail figures.

The Treasury is expected to closely monitor the suspension's effects and has not ruled out a permanent change.

Tory MP Nadine Dorries predicted that Mr Osborne would "face a barrage of criticism" as a result of the move.

She tweeted: "Arrogant to impose without debate and vote of whole house.

"Is the coalition government secretly implementing an anti-Christian agenda. And if so, who is driving it, Cameron and Osborne or the LDs?"

'Absolutely delighted'

Last year, Conservative MP Therese Coffey warned a temporary change for the Games might become permanent.

On Sunday she said: "I wouldn't stand in the way of shops being open in the Olympic Park during this time.

Westfield Stratford City The Westfield Stratford City shopping centre is located next to the Olympic Park

"But I just remind people that small, independent stores are allowed to open all day and this is an opportunity to celebrate them rather than having big stores open as well."

But party colleague Mark Menzies said he was "absolutely delighted" the plan was being taken up, saying it would "send out a very powerful message that Britain is open for business".

The MP for Fylde, whose background is in retail, said he had "no desire at this stage" to see longer opening hours beyond August.

The director of the Confederation of British Industry, John Cridland, backed the plan, saying: "I think it's going to do a lot for the spirit of Britain and for the businesses for Britain."

But Keep Sunday Special said the rumours were "profoundly worrying" and that it totally opposed the "unnecessary" move.

'Undermining the principle'

The Association of Convenience Stores warned the move could set an unwelcome precedent.

Chief executive James Lowman said on Sunday: "Any relaxation, even just for London during the Olympics, would erode our existing, popular, Sunday trading rules."

Mr Lowman added that the temporary concession could open the door for the big retail lobby to press for all sorts of exemptions for other events, "undermining the whole principle" of Sunday trading restrictions.

In Scotland, Sunday trading has long been deregulated with shops deciding their own hours.

In Northern Ireland, legislation introduced in 1997 allows large shops over 280 square metres to open between 13:00 and 18:00 on Sundays.

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 769.

    Contd from post 762.

    Whilst I have some reservations about it, I don't think faith groups have much to worry about when it comes to further deregulating Sunday trading laws. Churches are 24/7 operations these days, so there is not as much of a conflict of interest between faith and retail as there was 15 or 20 years ago.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 768.

    > 740. Born Acorn
    > I find it infuriating finding I can't purchase a fuse for my car because it's quarter to four on a Sunday and the nearest Maplins is 20 minutes away.

    I keep a few spare - Simples!

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 767.

    How did people think we coped when all shops bar convenience stores were closed? If you wanted to go shopping you would do it during the week. On Sunday I like to take a break from shopping and do other things with my Sunday leisure time. As for the olympics? Forget it, most of my friends in London have booked thier time off to get away from the olympics. I for one am glad I dont live in London.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 766.

    All current and these proposed trading rules do is promote greed and must have convinence over a cohesive family. They are designed to break up families, relationships & any disrupt and harm anyone who is im any kind of relationship with children.

    Sunday maybe the only quality time some families have together. Taking this away has helped and assisted the decline in social behaviour.

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 765.

    Greed. Greed, Greed - no concern for family life, or communities that need a puase and a rest from the cycle of regular weekly trading. And et more social manipulation from this goverment which is becoming increasinly morally bankcrupt.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 764.

    I tried to put a bet on extended Sunday opening hours continuing after the Olympics, but my bookie told me he didn't take bets on dead certs!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 763.

    can we have an opinion from somebody that works in retail on Sundays?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 762.

    In the 1990's, the criticism of Sunday trading from the Lords Day Observance Society was that it would discourage Church attendance. Whilst part of this is true, I feel that people who do attend Church on a Sunday, value their faith more than the ability to go shopping, so this will make very little difference for the Church.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 761.

    Yet another policy putting money and materialism before everything else. Basing all on consumer driven economic growth is a most banal and shortsighted approach to economic recovery that could be imagined.
    The political dogma behind this and other similar ideas is most likely going to destroy the last remanents of society we have.
    People do not matter onlt money does.

  • rate this
    -6

    Comment number 760.

    Yes, great news about time it brings trading laws up to date.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 759.

    The Sunday trading laws are no longer religious in origin, but are there for the benefit of poorly-paid shop workers. I imagine that if shops are allowed to trade for longer on Sundays, pressure will be put on these workers to forego their meagre time off to recover to allow executives to get more bonuses. Next, more coal fires will be reintroduced so small boys can be employed as chimney sweeps.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 758.

    No - Not impressed by this idea at all.

    Shop workers need protection from unscrupulous employers. They have no body standing up for them and shop owners know they can treat staff however they like in this typical Tory time of high unemployment. Typical Tory action to shaft low paid employees. And don't tell me Why not? Would you like to work till 10pm evry night including Sundays? I doubt it!

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 757.

    Although the law on shopping times is a farce, the larger picture worries me. Yet again this government have shown that they do not observe legislation and intend to flout the law. By all means change times but they have known for years about the Olympics. Once more my trust in this undemocratic, not voted for bunch of millionaires has been thwarted.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 756.

    The idea of limited trading on a Sunday is a little out dated but we should remember the people that have to work on Sunday!
    As someone who works in the betting industry, which already opens outside regular shop hours and I'm finding it increasingly harder to have a normal family life. So when we do reform opening hour, we must try strike a balance that will suit everyone!

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 755.

    Two major supporters of the Tory Government (what coelition?) will be happy that their orders on this have been carried out - the billionaire business people and the one with horns and a pointed tail.

  • rate this
    -5

    Comment number 754.

    Keeping one day special is a Jewish,not a Christian,ordinance.When many people went to church (willingly or not!) on their only day off,there were probably some social benefits when folks could get together,in the days before easy communication. Incomes were low and there was not much to buy.
    Osborne's plan seems ok to me. As long as the workers are happy about it.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 753.

    746.Jon T
    But where does the laptop buyer's £200 come from? If it does not come from the creation of £200 worth of export value, our balance of trade worsens.
    If we carry on like this then I am afraid the UK is destined to become a poverty stricken nation full of social unrest. Greece today will look like a picnic.

  • rate this
    +44

    Comment number 752.

    If this turns out to be a permanent change then the whole way society runs would need to change. Schools, nurseries, childminders etc. would need to be fully functional on Sundays too, or are we saying that retail workers children should be left to fend for themselves.As for people 'needing' to shop on Sunday-ever heard of organising your life? Most towns have 24hr shops mon-fri. Shop in evenings!

  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 751.

    Why do we need a change in the shopping laws? Won't all sports fans will be watching the games, and then not 24/7. I bet they forget to change the law's back after the games. Which prompts me to ask which one of dave's pals asked for this?

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 750.

    My daughter has tried to find a weekend job in town. All shops require her to work both Saturday and Sunday. Work Sunday or don't work here; that's the choice.
    She's a 6th form student and has homework to do over the weekend. Town is 10 miles away and there's no Sunday bus service.
    Academic and logistical problems, besides any religious or family ones.

 

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