London 2012: Sunday trading laws suspended for Olympics

London 2012 shop window at Westfield shopping centre in Stratford Large shopping centres will be able to open longer on Sundays throughout the duration of the Games

Related Stories

Sunday trading laws in England and Wales have been suspended until the end of the Olympics and Paralympics.

The government said being able to open longer on a Sunday would help retailers generate tens of millions of pounds in increased profits during London 2012.

Shop staff will retain the right to opt out of working on a Sunday.

But the Association of Convenience Stores said the big supermarkets would lure customers away from smaller shops, costing them millions in lost sales.

Under current legislation shops of more than 280 square metres (3,000 square feet) can open for a maximum of six hours on a Sunday, and only between the hours of 10:00 and 18:00.

London 2012 - One extraordinary year

London 2012 One extraordinary year graphic

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said larger shops would be "free to choose their opening hours on a Sunday" with "no restrictions on these hours" until the Olympics and Paralympics were over on 9 September.

In London, Westfield shopping centres in Stratford, in the east, and Shepherd's Bush, in the west, are opening between 11:00 and 21:00 BST throughout the Games period.

Wales's largest department store, John Lewis, in Cardiff, is opening an hour early from 10:00 during the Games. Its closing time of 17:00 remains unchanged. John Lewis said the majority of its other stores would be opening for an extra two hours.

Sainsbury's said it would extend Sunday trading hours in 30 of its supermarkets during the Games.

Waitrose said most of its shops would remain open for an additional two trading hours, with some opening earlier than usual and some staying open later.

And more than 160 Morrisons stores are set to stay open later, a spokeswoman for the chain said.

'Little return'

Chancellor George Osborne said the relaxation of the trading law would help maximise the economic benefits of the Olympics.

Shop workers' union Usdaw and the Keep Sunday Special campaign warned that the suspension could set a precedent.

Start Quote

I think this is going to be a really good test to see whether consumers want it”

End Quote Deirdre Bounds Entrepreneur

John Hannett, general secretary of the union, said: "Usdaw remains vehemently opposed to the deregulation of Sunday trading and we expect the government to abide by its commitment that this summer's temporary suspension will not lead to any further attempts to extend Sunday opening hours.

"The government failed to make a coherent business case for the suspension and there is no evidence that it will boost the economy or tourism.

"Extended Sunday opening won't put more money in the pockets of hard-pressed shoppers and with margins being squeezed and sales flatlining, the last thing retail needs this summer is increased overheads with little or no return."

Deirdre Bounds, an entrepreneur, also believes the move could pave the way for permanent change in the legislation.

She said bureaucracy was strangling businesses.

"If we want to go shopping at nine o'clock in the morning, six o'clock in the evening, why not? I think this is going to be a really good test to see whether consumers want it," she said.

'Fantastic opportunity'

The Union of Welsh Independent churches, which represents 450 churches in Wales, said that allowing supermarkets to remain open on Sunday evening would have an adverse affect on staff and family-run corner shops, "as well as destroying what remains of Sunday as a day of rest".

However, the government insisted it had no plans to relax the rules permanently.

Business minister Norman Lamb said: "The Olympic and Paralympic Games are almost upon us and you can sense the excitement building.

"This will be a fantastic opportunity to showcase, not just London, but the whole of the country to the rest of the world and provide a boost for the economy, sales and employment."

He added: "Retail workers will keep all their legal protections, such as the right to opt-out of Sunday working, but many will want to take the opportunity to work extra or different hours.

"I want employers to work with their staff so that we can all make the most of the Olympics.

"I want to make it clear that this is a temporary measure and not a test case for a permanent relaxation of the rules in the future."


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 699.

    Rockahula I totally agree, all these people that want their "special day" with their families Eh? everyday is special for me! and we should move into the 21st century where people can shop when they want, CHOICE is all we want.

  • rate this

    Comment number 698.

    ''I want to be able to go shopping when I want'...if shopping when you want is you priority in life and not time with your family and friends then I pity you.''

    Wow - how patronising! My family live hundreds of miles away, and I don't have or want kids and some prescribed 1950s family life – we don't all fit into cosy, cliched stereotypes. And this news just in: shopping isn't actually evil!

  • rate this

    Comment number 697.

    I would love to see all these 9-5 Monday to Friday tools get a Job in a supermarket and work crap hours for £6.50ph it's all gravy doing your nice easy shifts with plenty of time off. What makes you think people want to work these extra hours for you to get your pint of milk . Why don't you jog on and let everyone else just get on with their lives, it's fine the way it is

  • rate this

    Comment number 696.

    I have friends who work long 12 hour shifts in the local Chicken factory just so that many of us get our chicken, McDonalds, KFC mate is working right now! he started at 11am this morning and would love the opportunity to pop into his local supermarket on his way home but he can't can he! but you will still want your chicken eh..

  • rate this

    Comment number 695.

    689. demand_equality - My understanding is the independents already can open on Sundays.

    So much for demanding equality.

  • rate this

    Comment number 694.

    Many have commented on keeping Sundays special, without the pressures of consumerism? What nonsense. In life, you can choose whether you go out shopping or not, any day of the week. I personally think it would drag England kicking and screaming into this century if we relaxed the trading laws permanently. Scotland have already done it and we need to catch up... Again...

  • rate this

    Comment number 693.

    As someone who works in an out of town office 8-8 monday to friday, sometimes I get really annoyed by a Christian minorty/shopworkers decreeing that I can't go to tescos at 6 on a Sunday to get my food for the week ahead.

  • rate this

    Comment number 692.

    Partychick "Alot of the min wage employees in shops are on small contracts (i.e. 8, 16 or 24 hours) and rely on overtime to get more money and so HAVE to accept ANY hours or days they are given for fear of getting no overtime at all in the future"
    It is against the law to withold overtime because you turn down sunday working.
    To opt out of Sunday working, 3 months notice must be given

  • rate this

    Comment number 691.

    The only day I get to spend together with my partner is a Sunday and if we want to go shopping together then we should have that choice!
    There are plenty of people and young students with huge loans to pay off that would welcome the extra work! I have worked Sundays for years it's just another day, I can have quality family time any day of the week! but I should be able to shop when I choose.

  • rate this

    Comment number 690.

    Don't get can it mean more money for the shops? The shoppers still have the same amount of money to spend!!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 689.

    What has buying a pack of mini cheddars at 6.30pm on a Sunday in lancashire, got to do with the Olympic games?
    Government bowing to corporate wishes again!
    Why only large premises over 3000 sq feet? Why not local independants?
    Are all the major political parties spineless?

    Hands up who would volunteer for normal pay and extra Sunday hours?

  • rate this

    Comment number 688.

    Nope,I don't get it either. The things they dream up on the playing fields of Eton never cease to amaze.

  • rate this

    Comment number 687.

    If Sunday trading restrictions are a good thing, they are as much a good thing during the Olympics as at other times. If they are a bad thing ,they are as much a bad thing during the Olympics as at other times.

    Why the change?

  • rate this

    Comment number 686.

    Sorry,the point is lost on me. Because we have the Olympics Tesco opens earlier? Why?

  • Comment number 685.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 684.

    As someone who works on a Sunday this is annoying. The point isn`t whether people need to shop 7 days a week-it`s about allowing people to choose in a free country, or perhaps you think we should be a police state. Perhaps you don`t "need" a car, we should make everyone use public transport.

    Those of us who also work on Sundays would like to choose what we do on our (occasional) Sundays off.

  • rate this

    Comment number 683.

    Maybe a concerted effort by many - NOT to shop on Sundays would see the larger retail outlets decide it isn't worthwhile.
    Oh - but that would mean asking people to do somthing for someone elses benefit.
    Still - it was just a thought

  • rate this

    Comment number 682.

    Ah good. Im bound to need an extra loaf at 8am of a Sunday because the running races are on in London.

  • rate this

    Comment number 681.

    On Sunday I buy a newspaper.

    May as well get some other stuff whilst am out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 680.

    671 Most of the people who becuse of their type of job who work on Sundays get time off in lieu or better pay - retail workers get the same pathetic pay

    I worked in an old people`s home dealing with people with dementia and double incontinence. There`s nothing any shopworker can tell me about poor pay and poor working conditions and far worse hours than any shop worker. What about our rights too?


Page 1 of 35


More UK stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.