Sunday trading laws suspended for Olympics
The government has lifted Sunday trading laws for the duration of the Olympics in an attempt to boost the economy, the BBC has reported.
Currently, laws permit shops with a floor area of more than 280 square metres (3000 square feet) to open for no longer than six hours between 10:00 and 18:00 on a Sunday.
But a spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said that shops would be “free to choose their opening hours on a Sunday” with “no restrictions on these hours” until the Olympics games are over in September.
The move has been criticised by the shop workers’ union Usdaw who claim that there is “no evidence” that the suspension will help retailers to maximise profits.
Concerns have also been raised that the rules may not be re-instated at the end of the games, and that the move will pave the way for a permanent relaxation of the laws restricting Sunday trading.
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 said that the move could eventually lead to a long-term change in the law.
“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.
Andrea Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, said:
“Sunday trading may suit the whims of the wealthy but it is the poorest that suffer.
“Think of the single mother trying to make ends meet who is now told that she has to work a Sunday shift meaning even less time away from family.
“We need to protect and mark out time for family and relationships; for recreation and rest. A collective day of rest is a reminder that we are created for more than just work; we are made to be more than just cogs in a great machine; we are human beings.
“There is more to life than money and materialism; more to life than shopping and spending.
“A day of rest is liberating – it reminds us that our worth is not determined by our economic potential or our take home pay; a day of rest reminds us that we are precious because we are created and cared for by God.
“A day of rest gives us opportunity to enjoy the fruit of labour – in relationship, with others – not just to be continually creating and consuming.
“Jesus Christ, God's Son, came to bring us rest – an end to our striving – our attempt to put things right. He paid the price so that we don't have to.
“We've been reminded of the crippling effect of debt – He paid our debts so that we might be free, liberated – for rest and relationship.
“A society that is serious about Sunday is a society that is at ease with itself – not endlessly striving – but content and fulfilled.
“Is it any wonder that so many feel our society to be cynical and joyless? We have lost the practice of giving thanks – of 'counting our blessings'.
“As a society we have become materially better off – but are we richer? Are we more content? Are we more fulfilled?”