Apparently, the government has now reached such depths of desperation in trying to sort out the almighty mess that they inherited from Gordon that they are considering making the current relaxation of Sunday Trading restrictions permanent.
The current relaxation which was intended to give all those people flocking to the Olympics the opportunity to pop in and get a spot of retail therapy. It failed miserably. Less people went to the shops while the games were on that would have normally. So naturally, having proved that it doesn’t work, we should think about making it permanent!
Surprisingly, opposition to the idea has come from what you would have thought was the last place you would find it. Justin King, the boss of Sainsbury, seems to think it’s a daft idea. In a letter to last week’s Sunday Telegraph, he said it was not a ‘magic answer’ to boosting growth in the economy.
Smaller shops (under 3,000 sq ft) are allowed to open longer on Sundays whilst everyone else is restricted, It is interesting to note that during the 7 week relaxation of the rules, Sainsbury only took advantage of the opportunity in 30 out of its 1000+ stores. At least the put their money where their mouth is.
Meanwhile Community Secretary, Wilfred Pickles, is said to be considering the idea and there was really daft comment from Mark Wallace of the IoD who said “We know there are people out of work or underemployed who desperately want more opportunities and we know there is an appetite among consumers to shop during normal hours on Sundays, so it is silly to have a rule that holds both groups back.” Unsurprisingly, the Labour Party opposes the idea, but they’d do that on principal, even if it made sense!
The Union of Shop Distributive and Allies Workers opposes the idea. The Bishop of Oxford opposes it on the usual religious grounds. The Association of Convenience Stores is understandably ‘horrified’.
The Keep Sunday Special campaign said: “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.”
Cutting through it all, are we really in such a state in this country that we can’t do without a few extra shopping hours at the weekend? Is it not enough to have 24 hour supermarkets the rest of the week?
Here’s an idea : Let’s go back to all shops being closed on Sundays and early closing at Wednesday lunchtimes – then at least the poor bloody staff might at least get some time off…