Current legislation prevents shops larger than 280 sq m (3000 sq ft) in England and Wales from opening any longer than six hours between 10:00 and 18:00 on Sundays.
However, these laws have been dropped temporarily to cope with the influx of tourists visiting the country for the Olympic and Paralympic games this summer.
Supermarkets in England and Wales have been able to choose their own opening hours on Sundays for the past few weeks.
Now, the Institute of Directors (IoD) business lobby has called for the temporary measure to become permanent. The institute believes extra hours will provide more jobs for the unemployed and fulfill demand from consumers who wish to shop on Sundays.
Mark Wallace, speaking on behalf of the IoD, has said it is ‘silly’ to impose restrictions that benefit nobody.
Not all would agree – the chief executive of Sainsbury’s Justin King has spoken out against the plans by stating: “Maintaining Sunday’s special status has great merit for our customers and our colleagues, and relaxing Sunday Trading laws is certainly not a magic answer to economic regeneration.”
Sainsbury’s has only extended the opening hours at 30 of its 1,000 stores across the UK during the Olympics and Paralympics.
In a separate appeal, the general secretary of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw), the Bishop of Oxford and the chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores have together written a joint letter to the Sunday Telegraph expressing their ‘alarm’ at hearing plans to lift restrictions on Sunday trading hours.
The three men argue that longer opening hours will not ‘put more money in the pockets of shoppers’, but instead impact the family lives of those working longer Sunday hours.
One million families across the UK currently have at least one parent working both weekend days, giving them little or no time to spend with their children. Extended Sunday hours would put even more strain on already strained family life.
What do you think – what kind of effect will extended trading hours have on the UK economy, and how will this impact family life? Please post your comments below.
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