A great British compromise will happen this weekend, and next.
Sunday Trading Laws allow people to shop on Sundays, but restricted hours keep Sunday special. The UK has some of the longest trading hours in Europe, with over 150 shopping hours a week and only two days, Christmas Day and Easter Sunday, when larger stores close.
Since the 1994 Sunday Trading Act changes have been tried. During the Olympics, rules were relaxed to boost tourism and businesses.
Proponents argue that jobs would increase – though the evidence from Scotland, where hours are deregulated, doesn’t support this. Extra jobs don’t appear, retailers simply move staff to fit new trading patterns.
There’s a strong coalition against relaxing the rules. USDAW, the union representing shop workers, the Church of England, the Association of Convenience Stores, and the campaign group ‘Keep Sunday Special’ point out that currently shoppers can shop, retailers can trade and shop workers can have some family time.
The government has launched a consultation until September 16 on local areas changing Sunday trading rules. I believe this could be the thin end of the wedge. Pressure will grow on shop workers to work Sundays, small stores and high streets will struggle and devolution will create a postcode lottery.
We’ve achieved a great British compromise. If it isn’t broken it doesn’t need fixing.