One of the benefits of the Olympics has been the temporary relaxation of Sunday trading laws.
Parliament suspended the limitations to allow larger shops and supermarkets to open for longer for eight Sundays from July 22.
This is a step in the right direction of finally making Britain a truly 24-hour society, but it doesn’t go far enough. The time has come for the permanent deregulation of Sunday trading laws and to rid larger shops of the restriction of only being open for six hours on a Sunday between 10am and 6pm. The reasons behind the temporary relaxation is to show that GB is ‘open for business’ and to capitalise on the increased amount of people in the country.
Temporarily relaxing the law means larger shops can currently choose their opening hours on a Sunday. This makes perfect sense, but why should it only be for the duration of the Olympics and Paralympics?
To me, it is simply a question of choice. Gone are the days of the traditional nine-to-five work day. We now have flexible working hours with many people on shifts that include the weekends. Why should they be excluded from doing their weekly shop at 9pm on a Sunday night?
Weekends should be a time for family activity, but if you look at the packed car parks in any supermarket on a Saturday or Sunday daytime you will see them rammed with families undertaking the torturous task of the weekly shop together. How much better would it be if once the kids were in bed, that mum or dad could nip out and get the weekly provisions?
And it is not just the supermarkets. If I fancied spending my early Sunday morning or late Sunday night browsing sofas or beds, I am denied that option as the larger superstores are normally not allowed to open.
But a recent survey shows my wish for far greater shopping freedom on a Sunday is not the majority view. When shoppers were asked if they would like to see the Sunday trading laws extended permanently, fifty-two per cent said no, while only thirty-six per cent said yes. The rest were unsure.
It will be fascinating to see the figures at the end of this eight-week period and to gauge if the extended hours were embraced by the shopping public.
If they have been then surely it is a no-brainer.
I totally accept the argument that there are some who believe that Sunday should be a more relaxed and reflective day, but it all comes down to choice. If you believe it is not the day for shopping then exercise your right not to do it, but do not let your beliefs or opinions restrict the choice of others.
Deregulation of the Sunday trading laws would finally drag GB into the 21st century. As far as I am concerned it cannot happen soon enough.