Sunday trading

The government has issued a consultation paper about Sunday trading. They are offering the right to local communities to make their own rules about Sunday trading hours for various types of shop. They are asking whether this should be done as part of a general devolution deal to a large area with an elected Mayor (Greater London, the new Manchester arrangement) or by means of a general power to all local authorities in England and Wales.
If you have views on this you can respond directly to the government’s consultation or let me know on this site your opinion. I would also be interested to know if constituents want change to the current hours or think the present law has the balance right.

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4 Comments

  1. Posted August 6, 2015 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Why should any state body, national or local, have any power to tell businesses what days or times they may trade, simply at the behest of religious (people ed)? Sunday trading laws should not be “devolved”, they should be abolished.

  2. Posted August 8, 2015 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    I agree with Colin, I am not sure why Sunday trading rules are required at all. Other businesses such as airports operate 24×7 apart from then they would be deemed to cause a nuisance (night jet ban), for that reason local authorities are probably best placed to decide on hours. The only slight concern I have is that if all authorities have different rules it might confuse the shopping public as to when shops are open or not.

  3. Posted August 8, 2015 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    I remember being quite shocked as a Scottish student in Cambridge to find Sainsburys shut for much of each Sunday: in Scotland, restrictions on Sunday trading were abolished before I would have encountered them, so supermarkets are routinely open 24×7 or 6 am to midnight every day including Sunday. Nobody has found any adverse consequences to this, either – high time to bring England into line with Scotland on this, and consign the anachronistic restriction to the dustbin!

    (Having many non-Christian friends, granting Sunday and Christmas Day special legal status always irked me a little as well. Yes, we should get time off each week, but why must that day be Sunday rather than Friday? My father once worked for the London office of a Saudi company, which at the time meant a working week from Saturday to Wednesday: why should a retail company be prohibiting from operating the same hours?)

    Comments on this topic here seem unusually scarce, but so far unanimous: I’d be interested to see if anyone has anything to say in defence of the current law, and of course to hear Dr Redwood’s own position on it.

  4. Posted August 9, 2015 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    James,
    Althoughy I am a practicing Roman Catholic myself, I understand that in our current “right on, liberal, left leaning society” it is foolish and dangerous to raise one’s head above the parapit in support of Christianity. So I shall not argue the case from a religious standpoint.

    When the laws on Sunday trading were relaxed to what we have now, those working in retail were assured that they would never be forced to work Sundays however, it is now impossible to get a job in retail without agreeing to work any days, including Sundays and Bank Holidays, whether you would want to work those days or not.

    Although we have become a nation largely reliant on service industies, many people still see, rightly as it happens in my opinion, that the normal working week is Monday ’til Friday with the weekend off.
    Traditionally, women have been the mainstay in retail, because it has always fitted nicely around childcare and family weekends. This is likely to no longer be the case and thus, it disrupts family life for those who are forced to work weekends. (or nights or evenings etc.)

    I personally have always worked weekends and nights being a retired Psych Nurse however, I found that I worked more weekends compared to my female colleagues who had a family. I thought this was unfair; don’t get me wrong, I know life is seldom fair, but in the climate of “Equality and Fairness” I felt discriminated against. In nursing, working the unsocial shifts, one was rewarded with pay enhancements however, most supermarkets do not pay additional premiums for unsocial working.

    I agree that in a free market, the businesses and the local authority should decide what is best for their business and area but, we do need some commonsense to be displayed by businesses when it comes to forcing people to work hours which are unsuitable for them.
    Remember people are often forced to take jobs by the DWP or loose their benefits and this, in my opinion, gives too much power to unscrupulus employers and there are many of those in the retail sector.

    I personally liked working weekends, nights and bank holidays because golf courses and gyms were not very busy when I was off during the normal working week however, it does not suit everyone and this should be taken into consideration when contracts are offered in order to protect family life and other commitments. Too many people are expected to live to work rather than working to live. I always adopted the attitude that I sold some time to my employer, but that I never sold my body and soul to them.

    I could also make a religious case regarding people of faith’s need to practice that faith in terms of respecting their Sabbath, be that Friday, Saturday or Sunday but, I don’t want to ram any faith down anyone’s throat so I shall say no more.

    Reply The question of retail staff is an important one when considering changes of hours for larger shops. Saturday has long been the busiest day for many stores, so Saturday working has often been a requirement. What matters most is fair hours and flexible shifts, so family life can be compatible with working in a shop. Larger shops have more scope to offer flexible shifts and more choice for employees, but it doesn’t always work out like that.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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