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

    Comment number 639.

    If we're going to slip into a Sunday is the same as every other day scenario then how about getting the public transport providers to recognise this too. Most retail workers don't have access to the Tijuana Taxis the yummy mummies and yuppies use, they either take a bus or have to walk or cycle to work on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

  • rate this

    Comment number 638.

    Whatever happened to the Sunday premium? no when the stores first opened up they paid now it's normal business it'd gone just like we said it would. The big stores will be at it again to keep 'Olympic times when it's finished trouble there's no more money so you're back to square one. Give people back some quality of life and stop them having to work all hours. It's retail paranoia driving this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 637.

    I work in retail within one of the big department stores in Scotland. Our hours have got longer and longer the latest excuse being the Olympics. Not sure how this effects us in Glasgow????? now have to work till 7PM EVERY NIGHT, apart from Sunday when it is 6pm. What about time off for retail staff????? you can not refuse to work or your job is in jeopardy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 636.

    606: The statement was perfectly relevant. Since when was a flight attendant or a train driver an emergency service or self employed. Why should only shop workers be exempt from longer Sundays? Anyone in any profession can have family or be religious, yet people throw a hissy fit as soon as a shop worker is expected to work after 6pm on a Sunday. Why? Why are they more important than anyone else?

  • rate this

    Comment number 635.

    Why not remove the national speed limits too?

    Legalise littering, fly-tipping and Urinating In A Public Place whilst at it.

    I'm sorry, I can't see the connection between shopping, and watching sport on TV, and why the latter should become more necessary than before.

  • rate this

    Comment number 634.

    May I rephrase. I work Sundays. I worked today. I signed up knowing I'd work Sundays. But for the next few weeks, whether I like it or not, I will most likely be starting earlier or working later. And that's only if they don't decide to get rid of the restrictions perfectly.

    (Why would anyone need cheese at 3am on one specific day that you wouldn't have already planned to get?

  • rate this

    Comment number 633.

    Tesco's, or at least the ones around cardiff, are going all out and opening/opened for an extra 5hrs on a sunday! I expect they spent more paying the staff than earnt in sales.

  • rate this

    Comment number 632.

    Who cares, if you dont want to shop on Sundays then dont, If you do then fill your boots and the rest of you keep your nose out

  • rate this

    Comment number 631.

    People in this country are so unimaginative they would rather go shopping than go and chill with family or friends. Shops are open 80 hours a week or more, you can shop on the internet. Other European countries manage on fewer trading hours. Longer shop hours = poorer service as shops don't employ extra staff - they just spread them more thinly. Extra trading hours is not a money spinner.

  • rate this

    Comment number 630.

    "624.voice of reason
    They should have been hosted in Cardiff, or Liverpool or Hull - somewhere that would have had enormous lasting economic benefit. Londoncentricity once again...."

    With respect, your comment is off-topic. But I must offer you my wholehearted agreement.

  • rate this

    Comment number 629.

    I really don't see what extended shopping hours have to do with the Olympics. It is just another excuse to feed the greed that seems to be the way of life now. I'm sure that people can plan their shopping around the Olympics or anything else. I believe Sunday should be a day for family and friends to all be free to have time together. It's no good if people have different days free from work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 628.

    I can totally understand longer trading hours in london or around the areas where the games are going ahead. People will be coming from all over the World and they will have money to burn. The rest of the country will have the opposite affect as long trading hours will mean greater staff and overhead costs. Great pro-family policy. Stop Sunday Trading. Lets all have a day off and do something nice

  • rate this

    Comment number 627.

    You cannot get hold of a product instantly if you shop online, so that argument is void. If I want to go and buy cheese at 3am then I want the option of going out and buying it there and then. If you didn't sign up for it then you won't be forced to do it. A new person will in all likelihood be offered a contract stating that Sunday is required, if they ain't happy then they won't take it...

  • rate this

    Comment number 626.

    Well considering you have chosen to mention almost all the members of the emergency/essential services and the self employed, with the self employed choosing to work what ever hours they please ( none of which would seem to really apply ,to our Tory vision for our youngsters ) I don't really see the relevance of your statement !

  • rate this

    Comment number 625.

    Why shouldn't shops be allowed to open on Sunday evenings if they want to? Nobody's forcing anyone who doesn;t want to shop to go there, but having the shops open leaves the choice there for people who want to. I'm not a christian, and I don't like being told what I can and cannot do because of the rules of a religion I don't practice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 624.

    Sorry to be a bore, but the real scandal here is the fact that London is hosting the games.

    They should have been hosted in Cardiff, or Liverpool or Hull - somewhere that would have had enormous lasting economic benefit.

    Londoncentricity once again........

  • rate this

    Comment number 623.

    618: Then that is the difference. I complain not of the 9pm finishes in the week because that's what I signed up for. I did not sign up for finishing much later on a Sunday,

    I don't even live in London.

    (Shopping can ALSO be done twenty four hours nowadays online as well.)

  • rate this

    Comment number 622.

    Simple. Shops, petrol stations etc, that open on Sundays and other holidays should pay extra rates. As well as extra wages.

    Punitive rates.

    Except pubs. And garden centres. And Motorway services. And emergency chemists. And hotels. And anywhere else I might want to go.

  • rate this

    Comment number 621.

    "615.Gary Bullock
    I bet those that support it don't have such demands on their schedules. Surely those in banks, call centres, government offices, and so on, could all benefit from being open weekends and evenings, but I'm sure you wouldn't agree with that?"

    Lots of call centres DO operate on Sundays. Banks, mobile network operators, insurance companies...

  • rate this

    Comment number 620.

    510. ChrisJ
    I can can bet that everyone who actually agrees with relaxing Sunday trading isn't one of the poor individuals who has to actually work it
    You lose. I work every sunday 12=10pm. Funnily enough for a special day, people still expect their internet to work and when it doesn't want me to tell them why.


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