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

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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."

 

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  • rate this
    -16

    Comment number 399.

    I think this will be a good thing for visitors to London who are used to later opening hours in their Home Country. They will be able to enjoy the Games and then shop afterwards if they wish. Also, it will be a boost for flagging economy.

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 398.

    358.
    voice of reason
    I agree completely - and not only for surgeons!
    We've become far removed from earlier times when there was no respite from work - to enjoy your family/leisure and religion if so inclined. To imagine that the workforces would be happy with no short break at all is fallacious. We DO need time to unwind - despite the greedy telling us we NEED to be able to shop etc on a Sunday.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 397.

    all the Olympics are about is London ,"the city" boycott them and anything to do with them and support the strike action taken by public service workers and the pcs
    now is the time to stand and be counted,
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18944191

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 396.

    If you wish to keep your Sundays special please carry on and I don't want to see you in the supermarket after 4pm when you realise that you have forgotten something you need for Monday or for dinner.

    Its 2012 and I should be able to spend whenever I wish.

  • Comment number 395.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    -5

    Comment number 394.

    @358 voice of reason said: "Some roles in life require respite that only Sunday can bring."

    And who do you think you are to determine that for others, rather than others determine it themselves? You don't own their lives.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 393.

    @387

    It would be unfair for the government to declare that certain times in all swimming pools are for Islam-only burkini sessions (whatever that is), but I've no issue with a pool deciding their own timetable. Just like it'd be fine for shops to choose to close on Sundays, but I take issue with the government forcing them to.

    Everyone can have their beliefs, just don't force others to abide.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 392.

    388.Name Number 6
    "Giving shop staff time off to spend with their families is just spoiling them really."
    They'd still work the same number of hours a week as they do now (barring opting in for overtime). I doubt many stores (even supermarkets) would find it cost effective to extend their open times by that much anyway. Many other professions work Sundays. Why are shopworkers different?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 391.

    Who comes up with these daft ideas? Politicians?
    Nuff said!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 390.

    Good idea Name Number 6

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 389.

    Why cant the big supermarkets build an external coin operated self service area so that anyone who runs out of the essentials can go and buy them, without the need to make people work longer on sundays?

    Oh, er, hang on a minute they dont want to sell you just the things you need, do they?

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 388.

    Giving shop staff time off to spend with their families is just spoiling them really.

    I suggest supermarkets build dormitories in their warehouses so that the grateful staff can work the time they save travelling to and from work.

  • Comment number 387.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 386.

    Good. This country needs to ditch some of these stUpid morale principals. We live now and not back when they were created.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 385.

    Sunday trading laws should be part of a bygone era! If I want to shop on a Sunday then I should have the right to do so. You can open on a Sunday and keep your Sunday special, just don't go shopping if it offends you so much. People need to realise that some of us are not religious and Sunday's hold no special place for us. Will the world fall apart if we open the shops longer on a Sunday, NO!!!!!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 384.

    Fine by me. I plan on going food shopping once the Tour de France has finished, rather than having to miss the end of the race.

    I like the fact that I can spend my weekends how I wish for the the next few weeks, rather than trying to cram everything into the hours when shops are open.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 383.

    The sooner Sunday trading laws are abolished the better; if you dont want to shop on a Sunday then dont go.

  • rate this
    -6

    Comment number 382.

    There needs to be exemptions from Sunday trading laws for any shop that opens 24/7.

    It's completely unfair for Christians to sabotage 24 hour opening for their own personal religion. Have they not thought about people with sleep disorders or social phobia. It's very closed minded for them to assume that everyone is able to lead the same orderly 9 to 5 lifestyle as themselves.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 381.

    I went to the shops today during the extended hours. Just bought exactly the same as I would have done if I had gone one hour later.

    This change won't mean people will buy more and the claim that it would is as far fetched as the false claims for the Olympics having any lasting legacy or benefiting the economy.

    Not that I think religion should dictate opening hours of shops though.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 380.

    Shops should provide a 24 hour service in this day and age, just as they do on the continent. Doing so would mean much more employment available, not to mention a huge increase in VAT receipts for the treasury at a time of fiscal disbouyancy.

 

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