Anyone for shopping on Sunday?


                     The government has decided to suspend the Sunday trading laws over the Olympic period. Should they go the whole hog and repeal the law for good?

                      Limited Sunday trading was introduced to appease two vocal groups who disliked the idea of shops open on Sunday. The Christian Churches said they wanted to keep Sunday special as the Lord’s day. The Retail unions said they wanted staff to all have Sundays off. How valid are these objections today?

                        There is nothing stopping Christians maintaining Sunday as a special day, as the Church going day of the week. Retail staff who are also Christians can ask to work shifts or on days that do not clash with Sundays. No-one has to go shopping on Sunday if they disagree with it. There are now so many shops open on Sundays that it is no longer possible to claim that Sundays are special, or protected from the claims of Mammon

                         The Unions would have a point if staff had to work seven days a week instead of five. The restrictions on Sunday trading apply now to larger shops, not to the many small stores where there may already be limited flexibility over hours of work and days of employment. If the larger shops were allowed to trade for longer on Sundays they would have to come up with sensible packages of hours and shifts to atract a range of potential emplyees. They should not have to force Christians to work Sundays against their will, and would soon get a bad reputation as an employer if they tried to. Some employees might like to work on a Sunday and have a different week-day off instead, as that might work  better with their other commitments.

                          I think the government should change the law not just for a few weeks this summer, but for the longer future. Does it make sense to restrict the hours of the most successful retailers? Does it help the Higgh Street to close parts of it down on Sundays? Can’t we now find an answer to the objections?


  1. David
    March 24, 2012


    Pleased to see your change of view!

    You may recall that previously, I suggested that the repeal of Sunday trading laws would be one way of boosting the economy. (I gave the example of shops in Taiwan opening 10am – 10pm 7 days a week). At the time (and I can’t recall exactly your reasons) I think you said it would not work or have any effect (or was it that you were against it in principle?)**

    I was also pleased to see (at least obliquely in the Budget) a reference to what could be another of my suggestions: indexing the pension start age to (‘official’) longevity – in an open and transparent way. (At least that was my reading of one part of the headline – is that the case?).

    ** One issue with your blog is that it is very difficult to track back and search previous entries. How can I for example search for posts I have previously made? With other blogs I can actually search within Google and a few keywords and entries can be found. Here, even *within* the blog – using the Search box, it is very difficult. Any suggestions or ideas for improvement? Thanks.

    Reply: I found Sunday trading a very difficult issue when it first came up in Parliament. My constituency was very split on it. I consulted widely and found big dviisions. Within the local Conservative party opinion was literally fifty fifty when I took a vote. The freedom loving proponent of enterprise in me welcomed no Sunday trading restricitons. The conservative in me understood it would change the nature of Sundays and upset a number of groups of people that I needed to represent. Now we have had it in place for many shops it does seem absurd to argue that my local Co-op convenience shop can stay open but Tesco because they have a larger store has to close.

    I will ask the blogmaster to look at the technial search capability. I find the search works when I want to go back to something I wrote before, though sometimes I use one of the printed copies I am keeping.

    1. Cliff. Wokingham
      March 24, 2012

      So you feel that all the advances in medical science and improvements to our living standards that increase our longevity are made just to keep everyone in harness for longer and longer?

      When the state pension first came in, the average life expectancy was only eighteen months beyond retirement date and people were too knackered to enjoy that time anyway.

      We were always told, growing up in the fifties and sixties, that we would have more leisure time in the future. Now it seems to only purpose of our lives is to work, work and work until we drop.
      Many people that are in dead end jobs and manual jobs have had more than enough come sixty five.

      The government needs to start putting money aside to fund pensions and stop the silly ponzi scheme they now have. If a private company acted the way HM government acts in relation to moving the goal posts, they would be rightly prosecuted, sadly people just have to accept what government throw at them.

      If your turkeys voting for Christmas idea comes into being, people would need to work until they’re eighty years old. Is your life so sad and empty that you want to do that?

      1. Susan
        March 24, 2012


        An excellent post which I fully support.

        1. Sebastian Weetabix
          March 24, 2012

          We will have to work longer because demographics force us to. There are not enough young working people to support such a (proportionately) large elderly population.

          Perhaps if we as a society had not aborted 250,000 foetuses per year for the last 40 years we might cope better – and not require mass immigration to ensure the bedpans get emptied.

          1. A Different Simon
            March 24, 2012

            Sebastian ,

            I think what Cliff is saying is that instead of completely unfunded pensions where the young have to support the previous generation in their old age , the UK needs to move towards funded , or at least partially funded pensions .

            Over the past 30 years we have seen two trends :-
            – flooding private citizens with credit and debt
            – people spending everything they should be putting away for old age , partly due to the removal of vocational pensions

            This resulted in peoples future consumption being brought forward and spent now resulting in a massive boom .

            This was a deliberate ploy by the global banking industry so they could suck all the money out on the way up .

            Now that the global banking industry have appropriated all the wealth , all that is left in national and personal finances is a big black hole of debt .

            Governments are now , out of incompetence , facilitating part 2 by insisting on strict capital requirements which excuse banks from lending .

            Part 2 is to deliberately restrict credit so they can exchange the debauched currency they extracted on the way up for distressed real assets in fire sales on the way down .

            When the CBI talk about pensions what they really want is that they can’t wait till you reach 65 to get their hands on your life savings .

          2. Cliff. Wokingham.
            March 24, 2012

            Agree with your abortion comment.

            The reason why everyone will have to work longer is because governments did not set up a proper pension scheme that builds up reserves, instead they chose to run a ponzi schem; they use todays contributions to pay yesterdays investors(pensioners).

            During periods of boom, governments should not have acted like drunk sailors on shore leave and thrown the money about but, should have set up a reserve fund to pay the pensions of future retired people.
            Governments of all colours have let the people down.

          3. APL
            March 25, 2012

            Cliff. Wokingham: “Governments of all colours have let the people down.”

            Yes, but it is the political class, insulated with fat tax paid salaries, isolated in their own parochial little village, that lies at the root of our problem.

            They are incapable of exercising control of the civil service, nor do they care one jot for value for tax pounds.

            Now add the rest of us, who persistently vote along party lines regardless of bitter experience.

            And ‘voila’ here we are!

      2. A Different Simon
        March 24, 2012

        Cliff ,

        You’ve summed up the way I feel .

        Why do humans feel the need to enslave the less advantaged ?

        How would the less scrupulous directors of FTSE companies feel if other companies treated their children they way they treat their employees ?

        It’s not right that our children are brought into the world for a life of slavery .

    2. forthurst
      March 24, 2012

      “How can I for example search for posts I have previously made?”

      Suffix your argument (enquiry) with in an external search engine, e.g:

      david sunday taiwan

      General readers of this blog may value the fact that only JR’s actual posts are interrogated by the internal search engine; adding the comments would introduce potentially large numbers of additional matches that might make the site look more like the wit and wisdom of lifelogic than John Redwood’s diary.

    3. Epigenes
      March 26, 2012

      Mr Redwood, I think you should have an edit facility.

      If you reply to a post then prevent editing but otherwise it would be an enhancement.

  2. lifelogic
    March 24, 2012

    Of course we should be allowed to shop on Sunday.

    If I have to put up their two hours of bell ringing practice and them all driving to church on Sunday – then they can put up with me walking to Waitrose to buy some eggs and washing powder. It is a wasted resource to close millions of pounds of shops and stock for 18 hours on Sunday.
    Many Tescos are 24 hours all week, then have to close just for these 18 hours on Sunday. Food is thus wasted (immorally) due to going out of date, jobs go, the shop asset is wasted. It is absurd, let the Bishops get on with their fancy dress parades, their old books, and sing songs as they wish if they enjoy that and to leave the others alone please.

    1. lifelogic
      March 24, 2012

      Thinking about the child benefit removal at £50-60K of one person’s income. This is going to cause an absurd level of complexity to the tax benefit computations. HMRC and certain to make a mess of it in this days of complex family structures.

      People with children do, after all, need more money than people without children even if they are on £60K.

      1. alan jutson
        March 24, 2012


        Child benefit chaos.

        Agreed, make it one per person if the state is going to pay anything, thus two per couple.

        Having children is a choice, not a right.

        If you choose to have them, then the obligation is to pay for them.

        Osbourne has made a big mistake, in fact he has made rather too many of late.

    2. lifelogic
      March 24, 2012

      The admin of all this is reported to cost an extra £20M. I am sure it will cost far more in reality. Plus it will waste countless hours of (un-costed) tax payers time too.
      It is a mad policy and waste of money.

      1. Susan
        March 24, 2012


        If the Government were allowed to abolish child benefit altogether there would not be this complexity would there? We have had this discussion on a previous blog and you could give no valid reasons why this policy should be be retained, especially for high earners, in an already over populated Country.

        On the one hand you tell us you advocate that the state should allow tax payers to keep more of their own money because Government spends it so badly, on the other you expect people on a low income to provide the tax to pay child benefit for those earning much more.

        Therefore, whilst I am in agreement with a lot of what you have to say, such as reduced spending by Government etc it is sounding very much to me, that you only think the wealthy should get the tax breaks and the lower paid workers should just provide the means to pay for it. Especially it seems young couples and single people working hard who cannot afford to have children.

        1. lifelogic
          March 24, 2012

          It is clearly a bit daft and costly to tax people then give it back to all who have children as a benefit but then it was done to get the money to mothers I think initially when men were usually the earners. This may still have use place perhaps. But the latest arrangement in bonkers in complexity and costs.

          I would favour a flat rate tax with say 20% on income and 20% sales tax on most things. This is more than enough for the state sector to provide what it needs to.

          This way the person earning say £1M pays the state £200,000 income tax and probably gets just £3000 of benefit from the state for it (they are unlikely to use many services like schools, medical).

          The ordinary working person will perhaps get nearer £10,000 spent on them by the state and pay only £4,000.

          This way incentives are sensible and everyone will be better of in the long term save a few of the many state sector over paid who should go and lots of tax lawyer and accountant who should too.

    3. outsider
      March 24, 2012

      Dear Lifelogic, We can already shop on Sunday and I find no difficulty in buying eggs, washing powder or fresh food from Waitrose on that day. Cannot see your problem, unless it is ideological.

      1. lifelogic
        March 24, 2012

        My problem is that I might want to do it at 8am or 8pm.

        1. outsider
          March 25, 2012

          My local Waitrose does not open until 8.30 on weekdays and closes by 8.00 pm on all but two days so you could have a problem there.

          1. John
            March 25, 2012

            Waitrose doesn’t, but Sainsbury’s does. Also, I prefer to shop on Sundays as I leave for work before 8 and get back after 8.

    4. Susan
      March 24, 2012


      Lifelogic, for some people life is not all about earning as much money on the backs of others as possible. What a great lesson to teach our children, don’t bother doing anything useful on a Sunday or go to church with the family get some retail therapy instead. I seem to remember that is what started the problem in the UK in the first place, people spending.

      Anyway from what I gather shops that open on Sunday do not make anymore money, they are merely open to keep pace with their competitors. So I am sure that those who work in shops and like their Sundays off because they go to church etc will be grateful to know they are there to provide you with your eggs that you could have purchased on any weekday.

      My sister is a Catholic and works in a Supermarket, she was telling me that she requested Sundays off, but was told she would have to work them, so it is naive to say that employers do not force work patterns on their staff because they do.

      I am not particularly religious myself, but I do believe that one day off from shopping does the public no harm at all, whether it is to go to church or to the park with their children. Life has been eroded enough in the UK in the name of making a fast buck.

      1. lifelogic
        March 24, 2012

        I did not suggest “life is all about earning as much money on the backs of others as possible” at all. Why do you get that impression.

        I am all in favour of people “doing something useful” on Sunday and they may will need to go to the shops to do that perhaps buy a part for their car or something to fix the roof. Or even go to church if they like it. Even I quite like the odd choral evensong once in a while.

        I am not suggesting shop should all open just the ones that find it makes sense for them so to do.

        As for “retail therapy” it sounds like a form of torture to me I can’t stand shopping.

      2. John
        March 25, 2012

        If “people spending” is a problem, then why is Mervyn King keeping interest rates so low? Rather than banning shops from opening whenever they want, we need to have an employment law that forbids anyone from being forced to work on Sundays unless it is in their original employment contract.

        If a shop makes no money on Sunday (which is only the case because people are already put off from going shopping when everything is closed), then they will have no need to open or employ workers on the Lord’s day.

        Anyway, have you ever looked inside a big supermarket on Sunday? Everyone is still at work reshelving, restocking and changing price tags throughout the night until they open on Monday morning.

  3. Kevin Ronald Lohse
    March 24, 2012

    Agreed, but any legislation should enshrine the right of practising Christians to be free to exercise their consciences, and should extend that freedom to the days of rest of other mainstream religions. All must be equal under the Law.

    1. lifelogic
      March 24, 2012

      They have that right already they just take a job that fits in with their beliefs.

  4. Mike Stallard
    March 24, 2012

    When I was working at Olan Mills in the 1990s, we were suddenly told that we would, in future, be working on sundays as a normal day. I told my supervisor (a young lady of 23) that I had to go to Mass on Sunday.
    I honestly do not know if she understood what I was talking about. She, however, agreed.
    When I put on my coat to go out to Mass on the Saturday evening before the Sunday working she asked me what I thought I was doing. I told her that I had to go to Mass.
    She was very upset and after that relations deteriorated until the inevitable sacking two weeks later.

    Sitting in Parliament it is very easy to talk about stuff, you know.

    1. outsider
      March 24, 2012

      You are right. It reminds me of a former employer where women returning from maternity leave were immediately put on the night shift. They soon left.

    2. John
      March 25, 2012

      Well, I know very little about employment law, but this must be grounds for unfair dismissal – if not already the case, then it should be.

  5. norman
    March 24, 2012

    The internet never sleeps.

    Mail deliveries on a Sunday, now there’s something i’d get excited about.

  6. Bernard
    March 24, 2012

    Yes John, and can we remove the restrictions from Good Friday shopping as well please.
    Especially – garden centres.

    1. lifelogic
      March 24, 2012

      Indeed Good Friday is a very good day for gardening and seeing all the beauty of the world that has evolved through natural selection.

    2. outsider
      March 24, 2012

      I presume that are not yourself working on Good Friday.

    3. Mike Stallard
      March 24, 2012

      Christianity is the reason for all our festivals. In other religions, the festivals are quite different and, indeed, there aren’t that many public holidays either as far as I can see.
      So, while you are about trashing one of our holydays – holidays, why not rule out the three weeks’ Christmas holiday too? Whitsun went under Mr Wilson, that great moderniser. Easter – so? School holidays? So?

      I often come back to Singapore – there everyone – Indians, Chinese, Brits – celebrate their own festivals with full approval and indeed financial support of the State.

      Let’s just spend our lives shopping!

    4. Bernard
      March 24, 2012

      In answer to you three kind respondents above – I don’t wish anybody at all to be forced to do anything, whether it is selling, buying, shopping or gardening. The reason I mentioned Garden Centres is because in the spring there is, not surprisingly a demand, nay a huge demand for seedlings and young plants and vegatables. There is a very small window of opportunity for these to be at their best. They need to be sold, taken home and planted up within this ‘window’. It only takes a wet weekend to scupper everyones plans and a great deal will go to waste. Easter weekend is a wonderful time to enjoy a garden. Have you forgotten the saying – “You’re nearer to God in a garden, than anywhere else on Earth”. Live and let live, I say.

  7. Drayner
    March 24, 2012

    It has worked fine in Scotland for many years. And Scotland had the same tired arguments from the church etc.

    Not all shops open on a Sunday but they have the freedom to choose whether to do it or not. Just as consumers have the choice whether they want to go shopping or not.

    I don’t see what the fuss is about to be perfectly honest especially concerning staff. A lot of shop staff only work five days anyway and you get a lot of younger part time staff coming in for the Saturday job, so there’s no real reason why they couldnt go in for a sunday shift too.

    As for the church whingers. Doesn’t the Archbishop of Canterbury work and do a bit of business on a Sunday…

  8. JimF
    March 24, 2012

    No, quite happy here to have a rest from the weekday buzz on Sunday.
    Bring on the grass police (a la Suisse)

  9. Bazman
    March 24, 2012

    Does anyone want to go back to the previous Sunday trading laws when there was nothing open? stay in your house if you do or move to Bavaria where nothing is open, even many of the bars are closed.
    Sunday trading would not necessarily be a bad thing, but the idea that he larger shops would not have to come up with sensible packages to attract employees is not real as there is so much unemployment of young people and woman. They could and will do the legal minimum, as ever. The competition to work in Tesco or Asda is non existent it’s just a case of their being a job available and the employees being suitable. Suitable as having worked in retail and fitting a certain profile. Millions do. The point that many peole do not have to work more than seven days is true, but a working week as about forty hours and and hours after this are overtime. The clue is in the word ‘over time’ and should be paid at a premium rate. Time and a half is normal. No premium. No overtime. What do you not understand about this. It is non negotiable. At least by me. Employers and unions can ram it.

    Reply: If a major chain opens a small store it can open longer hours on Sunday already. My local convenience store allows me to buy a newspaper and breakfast food at 8 am on Sunday and happens to be owned by a very large congolmerate called the Co-op

    1. lifelogic
      March 24, 2012

      Why should they have to open a smaller store too in order to open what a waste of money.

      1. outsider
        March 24, 2012

        I can see the logic but why are anomalies bad?

        1. lifelogic
          March 24, 2012

          They are less efficient, destroy jobs, inconvenience and under use assets.

          1. uanime5
            March 24, 2012

            Actually a large number of small stores would create more jobs that a small number of large stores because the larger stores would benefit more from economy of scale, so they’d need fewer staff. Being inefficient generally creates jobs, rather than destroys them.

          2. John
            March 25, 2012

            Why are we creating useless jobs?

      2. Bazman
        March 24, 2012

        Do you seriously think any savings would be passed onto the customer for the inconvenience of travelling to the large store on a Sunday morning? A waste of petrol for the customer? More apologist nonsense.

        1. lifelogic
          March 24, 2012

          That’s customer choice.

          1. Bazman
            March 25, 2012

            What is the customers choice? Sorry missed the point. Their choice to travel to a store? If there was no small store nearby then their would be no choice other then to do without or drive.

  10. Brian Tomkinson
    March 24, 2012

    Where is the demand for this change? The large shops and supermarkets are open for long hours during the week in some cases 24 hours. Shops can open for 6 hours already on a Sunday isn’t that long enough? Is the thinking behind this just a way of creating additional jobs in retailing? Will there be any increase in turnover to compensate for the extra cost or will prices just rise to maintain profit margins and will it squeeze out even more small retailers?

    1. lifelogic
      March 24, 2012

      Where there is no demand they will not bother to open where there is demand they will open leave it to the shoppers and the customers to decide on demand.

      Where is the demand for churches they are empty all week and nearly empty on Sunday too very often.

      1. Mike Stallard
        March 24, 2012

        Religion – any religion – Political ideas – any political ideas – Artistic and cultural ideas – any ideas do not depend on whether or not they are popular.
        Van Gogh never sold a painting. Jesus was publicly executed before he came back again. The Prophet Mohammed was driven out of Mecca. Socrates was executed.
        OK so some religious leaders are very popular – Jerry Springer? Jeremy Kyle? The X factor? M le Pen?
        Our local Church is pretty well closed and where our next Catholic Priest and Bishop are coming from – who knows? But that in no way makes Jesus look stupid. But it might very well reflect very badly on us.

  11. Iain
    March 24, 2012

    As long as the Parliament also remains open 24 – 7 , no extended holidays, no half term breaks, no knocking off on Fridays, no weekend off. Lets see our politicians in Parliament on Sunday, in fact it would be a bit of a result to get them there on a normal day of the week

    Its time the Politicians had to endure the living conditions that they foist on others.

    But no I don’t want to have Sunday openings. It seems everything is being discarded or squeezed to make a buck. It says something that a society two thousand years ago realised that people and society at large needed one day in the week that was a break from the daily grind, something that this so called caring Conservative Government doesn’t. It is also worth noting that this proposal came out on Mothering Sunday, so I presume as people will be required to work on Sunday, will Mothering Sunday also be abolished?

    Reply: I regularly work as an MP on Sunday, both by attending formal events in the constituency and by answering many enquiries and problems sent to me over the week-end. I also do some work for my job every day of the week, as being an MP is a seven day a week task many weeks.

    1. outsider
      March 24, 2012

      Dear Mr Redwood, I don’t want to pillory MPs, especially one who maintains a 7 day a week blog, but Iain does have a more general point. There is a class divide here between the professional and official classes, who have sacred weekends and want everything available, and the proles who are expected to work Sundays and Bank holidays to provide it.
      There is case for having 24/7 society, but why should that not apply to the stock exchange and the financial system, to solicitors and planning departments, to courts and banks and universities?
      Even when an essential service like the NHS has to operate 24/7, the nurses, cooks, orderlies and student doctors have to turn upon Sundays but GPs do not. Nor do most consultants.
      There is a value in the weekend for many reasons that need not be rehearsed. The non-utility public sector and the stock exchange need not open because they are monopolies. Others agree among themselves.
      Where there is free competition, however, the weekend is bound to disappear
      for workers unless this is prevented by legal restrictions. If the service is not essential, there is case for doing so.
      If there is no case for protecting as many families’ weekends as possible, then there is no case for the public and professional world to exclude Saturdays and Sundays (let alone “public” holidays) from its “working days”.

      Reply: I too want more competition, and this will lead to seven day service with five day working in more cases. The utilities already supply power and phone services over the week-end, there are week-end media and newspaper offerings, week-end shops, and weekend food service from bakeries and the like. Seven day on call MPs are an unusual feature in the administrative public sector, where most stick to five day working patterns and where there is no competition and in many cases unlikely to be any.

      1. Bazman
        March 25, 2012

        The fact remains that for the middle classes the weekend is sacred and any work put in during this time will be paid at a premium in one away or another, whilst everyone else is expected to work as and when required with no extra pay. No only that, but to be thankful for the work too. Divided Britain on any given Sunday.

    2. BobE
      March 24, 2012

      I would like MPs to only be allowed to travel by train second class. To only be allowed NHS care, no private. To only have their children educated in state schools. Etc. In other words to live the lives they preach to us. Not limo’s, 1st class travel and other ways to avoid reality.
      If they don’t accept then don’t be an MP.
      Did you know that Ken claimed 50k in public transport costs. Yep, but to him a black cab was public transport!!!!.

      1. John
        March 25, 2012

        Why not, if they pay for it themselves? The minister for education should have his children in state schools, the minister for transport should use 2nd class trains, and the minister for health should be obliged to use the NHS though, at least after their period of office when they have had time to make changes.

  12. waramess
    March 24, 2012

    Perfectly sensible, but when did that have anything to do with what governments do?
    Further scraping and bowing to the wishes of the clergy would seem to be a compromise they will see as preferable to a red blooded fight to do what is clearly right and proper.

    We might remember that it was a left wing Tory PM that brought this wreched compromise upon us and we can perhaps expect nothing more than a compromise from this lot

  13. English Pensioner
    March 24, 2012

    The information that I have from an accountant at a well known chain store is that they don’t make any extra money out of Sunday opening, all it does is to ensure that their competitors don’t gain market share.
    With most people being hard up at the moment, it seems that the same amount of spend will be spread over a greater number of opening hours at the big stores, and thus their overheads will rise causing price increases in the long term.
    Small shops don’t have the same problems; they’re not concerned with market share they rely on casual trade, like the newsagent, or on customer loyalty, like the butchers and only open when they are most likely to get customers

  14. Adam5x5
    March 24, 2012

    I’ve never understood why shops have to close on a sunday.
    Doesn’t surprise me that it’s at the behest of the unions and god squad.

    These laws are antiquated. They also don’t apply in scotland and they don’t seem to have resulted in slavery or christian hunts.

    It’s just another area of our lives that the government can get out of.

    1. lifelogic
      March 24, 2012


    2. Iain
      March 24, 2012

      “These laws are antiquated. ”

      Just because they are antiquated doesn’t make them wrong.

      You can’t have a big society if people are having to work 24-7.

      And if shops open 24-7 why not every other business? Why do you single out shops as something different?

      1. lifelogic
        March 24, 2012

        Indeed long hours can be sensible – certainly very expensive pieces of equipment like MRI scanners and tesco stores should be kept running for very long hours where possible to utilise the assets best.

        “Just because they are antiquated does not make them wrong” true but they are wrong in this case.

        What on earth is “a big society” until someone defines the term properly I will assume it is another silly, vague, political invention like “discrimination”, “fairness”, “sustainable”, “renewable” and “an integrated transport system”.

        1. Bazman
          March 25, 2012

          Interesting to know the hours you keep. Not that I would believe them for one second.

        2. David John Wilson
          March 25, 2012

          Forget about MRI scanners, you can’t get a GP referred X-Ray in a hospital outside the traditional working week.

          1. lifelogic
            March 27, 2012

            Indeed because the NHS is badly run and does not sweat its assets properly. It is run more for the benefit of staff.

    3. Christopher Ekstrom
      March 24, 2012

      Next lets sack the Queen! So it works in Scotland? Oh then let’s!

    4. Bazman
      March 25, 2012

      The Sunday Working (Scotland) Act 2003 prohibits shops from compelling their workers to work on Sunday. Agree with that?

  15. Cliff. Wokingham
    March 24, 2012

    When the current Sunday trading laws came into being, staff were told that they would not be forced to work on Sundays. Now, some years later, no one can get a job in a major supermarket without agreeing to a seven working days a week contract; people then work five out of the seven days.

    Many shop workers are young mothers and a free for all opening policy would do nothing to keep family life healthy.

    I also wonder whether it would produce that much extra profit because people only have so much to spend and currently that spend is divided over the current opening hours. If those opening hours are extended, each hour would take just a little less with the total spread over the new opening period. All the main retailers would be forced to open so as not to let their competitors get an edge, but the costs would rise and the profits fall as the overall turnover remained static.

    Although I’m a practicing Catholic, I have no objections to the extended opening hours so long as employers do not discriminate against those of religious faith and force only Christians to work on their holy days.
    I personally would not use major shops on a Sunday nor Good Friday and that is my choice, I do not want to force others to follow my moral code.

    I do wonder whether this policy could lead to smaller shops going out of business, because most of the corner shop trade has always been when the big supermarkets were closed and they could charge a premium for their “out of hours” service.

  16. James Matthews
    March 24, 2012

    Sounds perfectly logical if you think that continuous activity and (sometimes) making money trump other considerations. If they do, should we not have rostered seven day working in all government offices, banks, the stock exchange, factories, and indeed all other commercial ventures? After all it maximises the use of infratructure investment and will be extemely convenient for all those who want to use their services.

    For myself, though a convinced atheist, I think it enhances many peoples quality of life to have one day a week in which the pace of life in this overcrowded country slows down to a slightly more peaceful tempo. Money is of course very important, especially when you are spending it faster than your are earning it, but it isn’t everything.

  17. Andy Man
    March 24, 2012

    It is never the job of parliament to decide when people can trade. There may be local issues where traffic to shops is causing a nuisance and restrictions could be imposed in special situations, apart from that politicians should keep their noses out.

  18. Daisy
    March 24, 2012

    Why not have government departments and local authority offices open on Sundays as well? Why does Parliament effectively pack up on Thursday night and not get going properly again until Tuesday morning? Why don’t courts continue to sit on Saturdays?

    I don’t feel particularly strongly about Sunday trading, but if the concept of the ‘weekend’, the regular (and in my opinion healthy) slackening of pace and pause in business activity is to be changed significantly, why limit this to shop opening hours?

    Reply: Parliament packs up early for the week-end so MPs can do the other part of their job – listening to the views of constituents, visiting constituency events and institutions, and trying to explain the will of Parliament to the public. We do not need yet more law from meeting as lawmakers more often, though I would like longer hours and more days in Parliament in weeks when Parliament is closed to hold the government to account.

    1. David John Wilson
      March 24, 2012

      Fair enough. What time on a Sunday do you hold your weekly surgery? It would be most convenient if it was at a time when the shops are not open and if it didn’t clash with the main church services.

  19. Liz
    March 24, 2012

    There is another side to this.

    Small shops benefit from the restricted opening of the larger shops.

    Many family businesses went under when (amongst other things) Sunday trading restrictions were lifted and the few who are clinging on see Sunday as a good trading day now with people popping in for the bits they’ve forgotten or run out of and newspapers.

    My family and I had a wonderful small newsagents and general shop in the 1980s – gradually, it was eroded with newspapers and the top magazines going into supermarkets and garages and extended opening hours of supermarkets.

    We were left with newspaper deliveries (and it’s debt from bad payers) and Sundays where there was little competition.

    We had to cut our staff right back and work longer hours ourselves – the extended hours did nothing for our micro-economy.

    Whether you’re a Chrisitian or not, Sunday tends to be a family day – if you have children, then they’re at school Monday to Friday – weekends are when you can catch up. Supermarkets do not like to run their rotas to suit the staff either – they take a very dim view if people don’t want to work weekends for whatever reason.

    To allow the larger supermarkets to open would knock the small businesses back again.

    It would not boost the economy either I’m afraid. There is a limited amount of money in circulation and all that would happen is that the spend would be split over 7 full days rather than 6.

  20. Mark
    March 24, 2012

    It’s worth noting that Christianity isn’t the only religion that maintains a rhythm of a weekly day off: some others choose a different 24 hour span rather than a Sunday. It’s also interesting that a nominally atheist society – the Soviet Union – regarded Sunday as a rest day. Post revolutionary France decimalised the week for a while, but that did not survive for long.

    A week is almost a quarter of a lunar cycle: this has other practical consequences such as the cycle of tides and menstruation. Indeed the Chinese adopted a calendar that was primarily lunar until into the 20th century – but they too now observe Sunday as a holiday. There are clearly far deeper currents that have driven human societies of many religions and none to adopt a weekly rhythm. Do we tamper with this advisedly?

  21. alan jutson
    March 24, 2012

    For once I am totally flexible in my thoughts.

    I agree with English Pensioner, that the total income of shops will not change if all shops open, but their variable overheads will rise, as people will not spend any more, just spread it out over 7 days.

    I agree with Mike Stallard that people should not be forced to work on a Sunday if they choose not to, but I am concerned that they may get bullied by new working practices being introduced, which virtually forces them to under threat of the sack.

    Sunday opening would however give the opportunity for university students or other young people, unemployed to work part time, to get used to earning money, gain the work ethic, and get some experience to put on their CV.

    On Balance, given so many stores open for 4-6 hours on a Sunday anyway, I think I would simply leave it open for choice, and ammend the laws for that to happen.

    1. alan jutson
      March 24, 2012

      When running my own business I had one rule about Sunday trading.

      If customers asked if a Sunday Appointment to quote for business was possible, I simply said I do work on a Sunday, but only to take orders and pick up cheques.

      Amazing, they then found time in the week to see me.

      Yes I would go out and take orders and collect cheques, but that WAS THE DEAL.

      Sunday to me was a day for families, my family, if at all possible.

  22. Richard1
    March 24, 2012

    Of course we should get rid of this absurd law. Those who want to retain it, such as the unions, should explain why if a shop wants to open, staff can be found who want to work and customers who want to buy goods, the State should intervene and prevent all these parties from freely interacting.

  23. uanime5
    March 24, 2012

    Well thanks to the EU’s Working Time Directive employees can’t be forced to work more than 48 hours per week, so there’s no risk of employees being overworked if the laws on Sunday shopping are changed.

    1. libertarian
      March 24, 2012

      Employees couldn’t be forced to work more than 48 hour BEFORE the WTD

      1. uanime5
        March 24, 2012

        Junior doctors were. That’s why the Government wanted an opt out of the WTD.

        1. Lindsay McDougall
          March 26, 2012

          Junior doctors are avid to learn and WANT to work 60 or 72 hour weeks. But they most not be allowed to work more than that. Sleepy doctors (especially sleepy surgeons) are dangerous.

    2. Sebastian Weetabix
      March 24, 2012

      Except most employers, when interviewing, will ‘invite’ prospective employees to sign a waiver that they are willing to work longer than 48 hours a week when required.

      1. uanime5
        March 24, 2012

        I’m fairly sure that’s illegal, so it’s not enforceable.

        1. Bazman
          March 25, 2012

          I have signed this. It’s not illegal, you are just saying you will work more than 48 hours. The truth is that if you do some actual work then anything over 50 hours in my opinion is done on auto pilot and not to a very good standard. Most people struggle to get overtime anyway so a few extra hours is usually welcome, but often employers use overtime as a cost cutting exercise instead of employing more people. This is where the pressure to work to many hours comes from, but remember it is ‘over time’ and employer need to find another fool if it is not to your liking.
          How many think tachographs in lorries are a unnecessary EU regulation and should be left to the driver and employers as to how many hours can be driven? Tachographs are not fitted in vans with drivers under pressure on minimum wage. Is this a good thing? Vans can be up to 5 tonnes in weight a 7.5 tonne lorry must be fitted with a tachograph and limited to 56 mph with many inspections and emission changes each year. By law. Vans do not. If you get rear ended by either the results would be similar pollution is too.
          Lets hear your word of wisdom Lifelogic of how the free market and less regulation could solve this. Driver responsibility I suspect. Shooting the driver no less…

        2. Disaffected
          March 25, 2012

          Rubbish, shift workers do it all the time. Socialist babble once more.

          1. Bazman
            March 25, 2012

            Still waiting for your reply. Off which they are paid. Guess what? Shift Premium. No Shift Premium. No shifts this is where it begins and ends. Do Middle class people work shifts. I thank you.

      2. libertarian
        March 24, 2012

        Total rubbish, provide evidence of this and I will even accept 30% of all employers as “most”.

        You people really do spout the most errant nonsense, have you ever met many people that run businesses?

        1. sjb
          March 25, 2012

          You will find many examples if you Google using the search terms: “I am willing to work more than 48 hours”

    3. Richard1
      March 24, 2012

      We don’t need the EU working time directive to protect employees. Sunday trading would increase economic activity assuming there are people who want to shop on Sunday and people who want to serve them. Some people might want to work more hours. Or else it could be an opportunity for part-time workers. As ever, freer markets mean freer citzens and greater prosperity.

      1. sjb
        March 25, 2012

        High streets have seen many small firms displaced by major companies, so an employee’s bargaining position is weaker.

        Let us say you are willing to work 12 hours on a Sunday but the employer is only prepared to offer you a zero-hours contract.[1] You take the job and then find:
        Week 1: 3 hours (Fri)
        Week 2: 32 hours (Mon-Thu)
        Week 3: 4 hours (Sat)
        Week 4: 16 hours (Tue & Fri)

        [1] A contract under which the employer does not guarantee to provide work and pays only for work actually done, which is becoming more common in the retail sector.

  24. Joe McCaffrey
    March 24, 2012

    Whatever the merits of shops opening, or not, on Sundays is largely irrelevant – the first question should be ‘on what just basis can the State assume the authority to dictate opening hours to private firms?’ – if the employer owns his business, the employee owns himself, and thereby his labour, the consumer owns the money he wishes to spend on a Sunday then none may presume to forbid the three of them from, on a mutually agreed basis, trading on a Sunday or anyother day of the week.

  25. Martyn
    March 24, 2012

    This seems to be to be a deliberate attack on the army of hard-working trading standards officers on double-time working Sundays to try and find a shop breaking the Law. It will cause them much angst and loss of income if all, repeat all of the opening hours restrictions are swept away.

    More seriously, it would be sensible to get rid of the complex trading laws – if pubs can open 24 hours a day why should not any other business operator who finds it economically sound to do so? As a practising Christian I would have no difficulty with such a tidying up exercise – a bonfire of legislation could take place, unlike that which we have been promised re quangos and the like…..

    1. sm
      March 24, 2012

      In this instance let the market choose, (government has a chance to get out of the way).

      In a 24/7 online world and in a world city like London it makes no sense to restrict hours for any business. Business is global, why not allow us to grab some of it. It might help, we are open for business. Look we have 2.7m unemployed, some may get a job, a chance , some experience.

      I would also like the public sector to be more focussed to 24/7 delivery where there is a reasonable need.

      We do need to allow people to sleep without too much noise/light pollution.

  26. Bill
    March 24, 2012

    I believe at the time of the French Revolution, with their worship of the Goddess of Reason, they inaugurated a 10 day week with one day off in nine. It wasn’t popular and they soon went back to the 7 day week. When I was in Jerusalem, we had a Friday off for the Muslims, a Sabbath for the Jews and a Sunday for the Christians. Each community could mark its distinctiveness by their own day. The secularists, of course, could work through the whole weekend.

    For myself, the 7 day weekend is really a cultural thing. I like cricket on the village green on a Saturday and if I hear church bells ringing on Sunday, that seems pleasant. As far as the economic argument is concerned, it seems to me that we are likely to spread the trade more thinly and not do more than exhaust shopkeepers.

  27. Atlas
    March 24, 2012

    I like one day a week being special, so I’m sorry John, but I don’t support you on this one.

  28. Alfred E PHILP
    March 24, 2012

    Seems to have caused a lot of comment. As it is likely to happen then Christians should be protected by a law being passed to make it illegal for them to be made to work on Sundays. Same law could cover other religions as appropriate.

    In the meantime I shall continue my Sundays as I have always done before I retired and that is with my family.

  29. David John Wilson
    March 24, 2012

    If only!

    Many supermarkets taking on staff on new contracts now insist on everyone signing up to a seven day shift rotation. Christians are losing their right not to work on a Sunday, as this means that they have to work at least two Sundays in every three.

    As the extra day usually has to be taken off during the week this is of no use to families. Any extension of Sunday hours will be a complete disaster as it will mean working during all services at suitable times to be shared with the family.

    We should go back to the earlier situation where only people in essential jobs work on Sunday. The freedom of opening up Sunday trading has failed and this must be recognised.

    I seem to remember your leader declaring that the Tories were working to improve family life. It is about time they showed it by restoring Sundays to being a day that can be shared by families.

  30. Matthew
    March 24, 2012

    Fine raise bar for the Olympics, but to go for long term change I don’t agree.

    The present legislation was introduced nearly twenty years ago as a compromise and, it seem to me, to work quite well.

    A lot of the big retailers are not on the high street now, but in out of town centres and even though I think they are beneficial providing competition and value, their activity does contribute to high street decline. In fact their limited Sunday hours maybe gives the minnows more of a chance.

    I doubt if the “giants” would increase total turnover the same spend would probably be distributed over a greater number of hours.

    The high street is in decline for a few reasons, online trading, retail parks, town centre parking and not least landlord’s expectations of yields north of 5%, although this latter factor will adjust over time.

  31. Stuart
    March 24, 2012

    as someone who works in the leisure industry i work Tuesday-Saturday, i would welcome Sunday opening hours as it would give me a greater flexibility to actually get all the things i need to get done on those 2 days.

  32. Johnny Norfolk
    March 24, 2012

    I would leave it as it is. It gives the small traders a chance. The big boys have more than enough of the cake.

  33. Bazman
    March 24, 2012

    Interesting to see how many bosses will be working on a Sunday. Save me the bleating about small companies and how much work the boss puts in. The bosses of large and small companies will be on the golf course telling everyone Sunday is a normal work day and they are still working via the phone. We know the story. Weekends are overtime and as I have said no premium no overtime. Shops taxis and the like are not the same animal, so save me that too.
    I worked for a well known womans accessories and housewares warehouse one Christmas. The erosion of the already bad working conditions and pay for the full time employees was a real eye opener. As where the massive profits enjoyed by the company and newspapoer cutting on the notice board telling everyone this. Exploitation of often, vulnerable is probably not the right word, but people no really capable of looking out for themselves in many ways. Ethic groups, woman, students, weak men etc. They where ironically frightened of joining a union as they might loose their jobs. Guess what? They lost them anyway…

    1. APL
      March 25, 2012

      Bazman: “Interesting to see how many bosses will be working on a Sunday.”

      It rather depends on what stage the company is at. In the early stages of setting up a company generating custom and producing goods or services, an individual ‘boss’ will probably find him/her self working twelve hour days, seven days a week.

      Now if the company becomes successful and the ‘boss’ takes on extra staff, then yes, maybe the ‘boss’ might take a weekend off now and again.

    2. Bazman
      March 25, 2012

      Still waiting for your reply lifelogic. Call yourself a politician. I am a wine expert, by day.

  34. David Langley
    March 24, 2012

    As long as we get a few days off no problem. Religious objections have long ceased to have any traction in my household. I hunger 24/7, I love and live 24/7. Lets welcome the new age of 24/7 responsibly and with care for all who support us 24/7.

    1. Yudansha
      March 24, 2012

      Without a break betwixt one week and the next wouldn’t it all seem a bit anarchic ?

      We get things like fireworks all year round; the weekend now seems to start on Thursdays as far as pubs and restaurants are concerned.

      Culture is as much about the time between events as the events themselves. Britain seems to have lost a great deal of its character and structure.

  35. Ross J Warren
    March 24, 2012

    “The government has decided to suspend the Sunday trading laws over the Olympic period. Should they go the whole hog and repeal the law for good?”

    No, they should not. The Class that will be forced into Sunday work have far to little say in their lives already. The Golden Bull, is not everything, the be all and end all.
    One day belongs to God, but the Sabbath belongs to the man as well. It’s a right, an allotment, we would do well to think hard about why so many previous generations upheld this right, whist we alone seem intent on debasing it.

    Talk about tyrants running amok, we have this and Gay Marrying as glaring examples of why so many Christians warn of a coming judgement. It’s as if the lunatics have finally burst forth, frothing at the mouth and gibbering foul nonsense.

    I hope John that you are not among them. There is a mood rising like the sap of Spring, our political class, has yet to learn it lesson and may need to be corrected.

  36. Paul H
    March 24, 2012

    Assisting a revival of the High Street is a bit of a red herring. There are broader factors impacting the High Street and (much more onerous) Sunday trading laws did not stop it thriving in the past. There is clearly no unfulfilled demand for High Street shopping and it is basic economics that no increase in supply is required. Indeed it may make shops less profitable if they are forced to incur the additional costs without any increase in total sales.

  37. Matt
    March 24, 2012

    I think that the original post is naive. In practice it is extremely difficult for Christians to avoid working Sundays if their employer is open that day. Therefore, we should see extending Sunday trading for what it is: the removal of Sunday as a special day. I don’t think you have to be religious to see that 1 day a week in which the majority take time off and attend to their families, friends and relatives might be a good thing for society. I also find it very hard to believe that increased activity on a Sunday will lead to any wealth generation – more likely that it will spread existing wealth generation over 7 days instead of 6.

  38. Electro-Kevin
    March 24, 2012

    If Sunday opening is about getting the economy back on track then we really ought to apply it all businesses, not just retail outlets.

    Let’s drop bank holidays too.

    1. Electro-Kevin
      March 24, 2012

      PS – is an extra day of buying imports going to help us ?

  39. Lindsay McDougall
    March 25, 2012

    As an atheist, I might be expected to agree with this line of arguement. It’s just that I prefer one day a week to be a little quieter than the other six. I can’t tell you why. It’s just personal preference.

    Tell me, if shops opened on average an extra 2 hours on Sundays, would we in aggregate spend any more?

  40. David John Wilson
    March 25, 2012

    We need to be clear that to keep families together we need one day a week when as few as possible people need to go to work. David Cameron declared that a vote for the Tories was a vote for the family. Please lets preserve Sunday as a day for the family when the number of people going to work is kept to a minimum. There is no need for shops to open on a Sunday even for the hours that they currently do. Why should people be forced to work in retail outlets on a Sunday to satisfy the needs of the selfish few who can’t organise themselves to shop on other days?

    There can be no argument that people are at work for the rest of the time that the shops are open. Many large shops open for 72 hours a week excluding Sundays. Under the European Working Time Directive it is illegal to work for more than 48 hours a week. That leaves 24 hours a week for shopping without involving Sundays.

  41. Iain Gill
    March 25, 2012

    like gay marriage this is an issue that 99.99% of people couldnt care less about

    one of the best things about this website is that it does give more air time to those issues really in the top 10 concerns of ordinary people, and is less bothered about the fashionable subjects of the political bubble

    i hope it remains that way

    and so back to reality the top issues with the voters remain 1 the economy and 2 immigration, both massively ahead of all other topics, john youre at your best when you reflect these concerns

  42. Christian Wright
    March 25, 2012

    Government has no business poking its nose in this issue, and such restrictions on Sunday trading should be scrapped permanently.

    Only those acting in their self interests could champion this anachronistic restraint of trade.

  43. Barbara Stevens
    March 25, 2012

    We live within half a mile of Merry Hill shopping centre, and believe me it’s chaos on the roads most days, Sunday is one day of respite which we cherish. We still get traffic on Sunday’s but its milder. The centre legally trades from 11am, till 5pm on Sundays, and that’s fair enough. Christmas time we suffer blocked roads, illegal parking in side roads and to top it all, we have the fumes from the cars and buses to cope with; and no reduction in our rates for the upheaval. I’m not in favour of having more shopping time its unfair for those who have to endure living by it. Again, there is the question of those who work in retail and Sunday working. They too have lives to live with families. Its OK saying bosses won’t impose Sunday working, but they will, and if you reduce employment laws as well, they will threaten job loss. Not all are perfect bosses. If you want to work all well and good, and those of us who live by the traffic and fumes also have a point of view. Its time quality of life came before money and greed. After all we all have one pocket to empty when shopping, how many days does one need to shop, the money only goes so far, unless you’re super rich of course.

  44. reaguns
    March 27, 2012

    Obviously its good for business owners and good for customers if we open on sundays. Christians can still have special sundays, and anyway in this day and age what business have the minority of british people who go to church got telling the rest of us what to do? In American there might be a democratic mandate, not here.

    So the retail workers are the only ones we have to focus on.

    I have had jobs in my youth where I was forced to work on sundays, and other jobs where I was happy to work sundays for extra cash.

    The best solution I can think of is allow everyone, after they have accepted a job (ie before it can affect the decision to employ or not) to state whether they want to opt out of sunday working, and have that position respected in employment law. Those who are either religious, or simply want to have a regular day off every week no matter what – can opt out. In certain jobs I’ve had, I would do this.

    Everyone else can work sundays if they want. It would probably help too if firms paid a bit extra as some of mine used to for sunday work. In those firms, I couldn’t get enough sunday work.

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