Now I am not some sort of religious zealot, but the ‘leaked’ budget proposal to remove the Sunday trading restrictions across the UK this Summer on eight weekends from 22 July during the Olympics and Paralympics on a ‘temporary basis’ does seem a rather strange thing to do.
In his Budget, George Osborne is set to propose emergency legislation so large shops in England and Wales can trade for more than six hours. The Sunday Trading Act 1994 states that shops over 280 square metres in England and Wales are restricted to any six hours of continuous trading between 10:00 and 18:00 on Sundays. And they cannot open at all on Easter Sunday. The law also includes measures to protect the rights of shop workers who wish not to work on Sunday.
Now I am perhaps a bit weird in this respect – but I actually quite like a day during the week when things are a bit different from the other six days of the week. One of the things I enjoy about going to European cities is that they are different from ours on a Sunday, not closed but far more family oriented. Restaurants and the like are generally open, but the larger shops aren’t. We are all shopping more on-line nowadays so is there a need for additional opening times?
I can accept that changing opening times in London and host cities during the Olympics may be a good idea to help tourism, but across all England and Wales? Remember that small convenience shops can always open on Sundays anyway – isn’t it time to support them and help rejuvenate our small retail traders?
Time for a rethink Chancellor?