Calls to maintain existing Sunday trading laws have intensified after a broad spectrum of retail representatives voiced their concerns for changing the regulations in the latest edition of The Sunday Telegraph.
The debate was recently revived by communities minister Eric Pickles, who said that the case for a permanent relaxation needed to be examined.
In a joint letter this weekend to the Sunday Telegraph by Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) chief executive James Lowman, Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers general secretary John Hannett and the Bishop of Oxford Rt Rev John Pritchard, the government was urged to keep the Sunday trading laws as they were.
“Longer opening hours won’t put more money in the pockets of shoppers. There is no evidence it would boost jobs or growth. It would, however, have a detrimental impact on small shops, family life and the special nature that Sundays still have a day when the nation can take a collective breather from the stresses of modern life,” they wrote.
Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King also wrote to The Sunday Telegraph calling for the Sunday trading laws to remain unchanged.
“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. The current trading rules play to common sense. Those calling for a permanent change will need to demonstrate a strong economic case for any change to be justified,” he said.
Sainsbury’s took advantage of the temporary relaxation in 30 of its stores and, according to King, saw “great trading through serving the unusual customer demand at those locations”.
ACS public affairs director Shane Brennan welcomed the support to keep Sunday trading legislation as it is. “We have been encouraged by the level of support for keeping the current Sunday trading laws over the past week,” he said. “If the government is seriously considering a permanent relaxation, we urge them to pay attention to the media coverage of the retail sector, politicians and the general public who clearly agree that the status quo should be kept as it is.”
The temporary relaxation will run until September 9.