Tom Keighley

Member Article

Olympic Sunday trading hours cause controversy

George Osborne is set to propose emergency legislation to allow shops to open for longer hours on Sundays over the Olympics.

Shopworkers unions USDAW and Labour have expressed concern at the move, as it could lead to more permanent change.

The legislation will relax laws for outlets with more than 280 square metres of shop floor space, that are currently not allowed to open for more than six hours on Sundays between 10am and 6pm.

Speaking on BBC1’s Andrew Marr show, Mr Osborne said: “We’ve got the whole world coming to London and the rest of the country for the Olympics.

A statement for the Keep Sunday Special campaign, said: “Rumours that Sunday trading legislation will be relaxed for the duration of the Olympic Games are profoundly worrying.

“The Keep Sunday Special Campaign totally opposes any plans to amend Sunday trading laws in the context of the Olympics. Such a move would be unnecessary and merely a cover for creeping deregulation.

“It is KSS’s view that primary legislation would be needed to change the law on Sunday trading.

“It would be shameful indeed if Parliament allowed a change to be pushed through in the context of the Budget, especially as there was consultation on Sunday Trading only last year which showed conclusively that there was no appetite to change the law.”

Paul Feechan, Consumer Business Partner for Deloitte in the North East said: “If this anticipated measure is confirmed in George Osborne’s Budget on Wednesday, it should be welcomed as a pragmatic decision which will provide retailers with a short-term opportunity to boost trading.

“Our research has already shown that retailers are confident that London 2012 will provide a boost with 84% expecting an increase in demand.

“This change in regulation should allow them to benefit further from the thousands of visitors to the UKthis summer.

“In the longer term, it would not be a huge surprise if extended Sunday trading became the norm. The customer really is king and increasingly expects to be able to shop for what they want, when they want it.

“However, any boost to revenues enjoyed by retailers during the Games is unlikely to be replicated if the measure became permanent.

“Such a move would allow retailers to offer their customers greater convenience, but it is also likely that it would increase costs as the period of time when consumers do their shopping would be stretched, rather than increase the spending pot itself.”

John Hannett, General Secretary of the shopworkers union Usdaw said members were “vehemently opposed” to the changes, and argued there is no widespread support from shopkeepers.

He said: “Deregulation would do little to stimulate growth or create jobs, but would have a very detrimental impact on the lives of millions of shopworkers and their families. Any change would fly totally in the face of the government’s commitment to be family-friendly.

“To suggest that the current legislation, which allows shops to open for 150 hours a week, means Britain is ‘closed for business’ is frankly ridiculous.

“With ministerial aides apparently briefing the announcement out as a prelude to permanent change, and with the total number of tourists actually expected to be down this summer, there is understandable suspicion that the government is trying to use the London Olympics as cover for its wider deregulation agenda.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Tom Keighley .

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