Government in discussion with retailers over Sunday trading laws
The Government has begun discussions with major retailers over its plans to relax Sunday trading laws beyond the duration of the Olympics, the Mail on Sunday has reported.
The Coalition is currently seeking feedback from major retailers and supermarkets on the impact of removing Sunday trading restrictions during the Olympic games, with a view to suspending the rules permanently to help retailers maximise profits.
But Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King criticised the plans, commenting that a special status for Sundays had “great merit” for both customers and shop workers.
In a letter to the Sunday Telegraph, Mr King said that permitting shops to stay open for longer on a Sunday amounted to a “great British compromise” and would not provide a “magic answer” to Britain’s economic struggles.
In a seprate joint letter, Rt Rev John Pritchard, the Bishop of Oxford, the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers and the Association of Convenience Stores argued that the temporary extension of trading hours had only been approved by the House of Commons on the condition that the rules would be re-instated at the end of the games.
“Yet, just halfway through the eight-week temporary suspension, those assurances have been called into question,” the letter said, highlighting that longer opening hours on Sundays would also have a “detrimental impact” on family life.
The Keep Sunday Special campaign raised similar concerns, stating: “David Cameron came into government promising to make this country the 'most family friendly in Europe' but over one million families have at least one parent working on both weekend days, meaning they have little time to spend with their children.”
Breach of trust
PM David Cameron has been warned that applying the extended trading hours all year round would represent a ‘major breach of trust’ in light of the Government's assurances that the changes would not be applied beyond the Olympic season.
But some members of the Conservative party have backed the proposals, with Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, stating that a long-term change in the law should be considered.
Andrea Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, said:
“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.
“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.
“A society that is serious about Sunday is a society that is at ease with itself – not endlessly striving – but content and fulfilled.
“As a society we have become materially better off – but are we richer? Are we more content? Are we more fulfilled?”