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Campaigners confident that Sundays safe after Olympics

03 August 2012


Gold standard: the Chinese divers He Zi, left, and Wu Minxia, pose with their medals on Sunday after winning the 3-metre synchronized springboard final at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park 

Gold standard: the Chinese divers He Zi, left, and Wu Minxia, pose with their medals on Sunday after winning the 3-metre synchronized springboa...

CAMPAIGNERS have said that they are confident that the suspension of Sunday-trading laws for the Olympics will "lapse" once the Games have ended.

Earlier this year, the Government introduced emergency legislation to relax Sunday-trading laws for the duration of the Olympics and Paralympics ( News, 23 March). The legislation, which received Royal Assent on 1 May, has allowed large shops to open all day, instead of for six continuous hours, during the Olympics.

In recent weeks, some commentators have suggested that the restrictions on Sunday-trading laws should be lifted permanently once the Olympics have ended. Writing on the website Conservative Home on Sunday, the blogger Alex Deane said that the temporary suspension of the laws should be "used as a spur to reconsider our restrictive, antiquated trading laws".

On Monday of last week, in an editorial for the financial newspaper City A.M., distributed free in London, the paper's editor, Allister Heath, wrote that allowing "permanently consenting adults to shop freely on Sundays" would be "a good and easy way for the Coalition to show that Britain is open for business".

Mr Heath said that "Christians who insist that Sunday must remain special should remember that in the US, that most religious of Western societies, shops have always been open on Sunday."

But the Keep Sunday Special Campaign said in a statement on Tuesday of last week that it believed that its opposition to the emergency legislation "was successful in ensuring that the Bill will lapse after the Games", and had put "a strong marker down about the extent of opposition to any further deregulation".

The statement continued: "David Cameron came into Government promising to make this country the 'most family-friendly in Europe'. But over one million families have at least one parent working on both weekend days, meaning they have little time to spend with their children at a time when they are not at school."

The general secretary of USDAW, the shop-workers' union, John Hannett, said that the union expected the Government "to abide by its commitment that this summer's tem- porary suspension will not lead to any further attempts to extend Sunday opening hours. The Government failed to make a coherent business case for the suspension, and there is no evidence that it will boost the economy or tourism."

In a poll of 999 adults, published by Ipsos MORI on Monday, 52 per cent of respondents were opposed, and 36 per cent were in favour, of relaxing the Sunday trading laws permanently. Respondents aged between 15 and 24, however, were more enthusiastic about a relaxation of the Sunday-trading laws: 50 per cent were in favour, and 35 per cent were against.

There was less enthusiasm among older people: 28 per cent aged between 55 and 64, and 21 per cent over the age of 65, favoured a permanent relaxation of the laws.

The associate director of marketing at Ipsos MORI, Sasha Birkin, said that the younger generation "have spent most of their shopping lives post the 1994 Sunday Trading introduction, and have grown up accustomed to unrestricted trading hours on other days of the week. The research shows that the younger generation of shoppers are less conservative than their parents and less attached to the idea of keeping Sunday special."

Question of the Week: Should the suspension of Sunday-trading restrictions continue after the Olympics?

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