English Sunday Trading laws could loosen to boost economy
As the British government seeks to boost the economy following the coronavirus crisis and the linked lockdowns, there have been suggestions that Sunday trading laws could be relaxed to allow large shops to open for longer on Sundays.
At present, their opening hours are limited on that day, but it has been reported that the government is considering allowing large stores extra hours due to fears about surging unemployment, particularly in the retail sector.
The Prime Minister, the Chancellor and the Business Secretary are all believed to be in favour of the move, The Times said.
Any change would still meet stiff opposition, both from traditionalists in the Tory party and from the Labour Party, which would see it as an attempt to force more retail staff to work unsociable hours. Shop-workers union USDAW has already criticised the plan and called it misguided.
An earlier attempt by ex-PM David Cameron to relax the regulations was defeated by 27 Tory rebels voting against the government. But the current administration has a big enough majority to possibly get the legislation through.
The 1994 Sunday Trading Act limits shops with retail space over 280 sq m to a maximum of six hours of trading. And while a change in the rules would have a big impact on supermarkets, it would also affect department stores and other major retail chains.
Opinion is divided among retailers themselves with some major supermarkets in favour of such a move. But some other retail firms feel it would simply put them under pressure to open for longer and may not increase their sales, even though it would increase their costs.
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