Government rejects longer Sunday trading


Government rejects longer Sunday trading
Trade and industry secretary Alistair Darling has confirmed that the government will not extend Sunday trading hours.

In a widely expected announcement, Mr Darling said that a review conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) into Sunday trading did not find change beyond the existing limitations necessary.

The government's decision will come as a disappointment to retail business leaders, who had been pressing for longer hours in order to secure greater revenue at the weekend.

"With the Sunday trading laws having been in place for many years, it was important that we looked at whether they were still appropriate," Mr Darling said.

He revealed that the DTI has received nearly 1,000 responses from businesses but found "no substantial demand for change" among the consultation's feedback.

"On that basis, and having considered all the evidence from the review, we have concluded there should be no change to the Sunday trading laws."

David Ramsden, chairman of pressure group Deregulate, expressed disappointment over the government's decision.

Appearing on BBC Radio Five Live, he explained that "we were asking for total deregulation to give retailers the flexibility they need to meet consumer demands at different times of the year".

He said that there is "overwhelming evidence" from consumers, and from the government's own independent analysis, to suggest that allowing shops to open longer on Sundays would be of huge benefit to the British economy.

But Shane Brennan, government relations manager at the Association of Convenience Stores, welcomed the government's rejection of changes, citing research showing that 68 per cent of customers were opposed to an increase in Sunday opening hours.

"Whatever benefit there would be for larger retailers, they have not really considered the detriment to smaller retailers," he stressed on the same station.

"When we speak to small retailers they're very clear that [current] Sunday trading laws are of benefit to them, and that preserving status quo is something that actually will help them."

Sunday trading became widely permitted in the UK in 1994 after the Conservative government succeeded in pushing the Sunday Trading Act 1994 through parliament.

The Act places no restrictions on opening hours for small shops but restricts opening hours for large shops with an area of over 280 square metres between 10:00 and 18:00.

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