Shoppers in England and Wales enjoyed not only the sunshine last Sunday, but also extended shopping hours as trading laws are relaxed for the Olympic Games.
Retail commercial properties up and down the country now have the choice to choose when they open and close and for how long – but only for the next eight weeks until 9 September 2012.
Currently any retail commercial property larger than 3000 sq. ft. is restricted to trading for a maximum of six hours between 10am and 6pm on a Sunday. But for the next eight weeks they have the freedom to open all night if they wish to.
The Government hopes the relaxed shopping laws will give the economy a £220 million boost but others aren’t so optimistic about the relaxation.
John Hannett, general secretary for the shop workers union, Usdaw said: “We expect the government to abide by its commitment that this summer’s temporary 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.
“Extended Sunday opening won’t put more money in the pockets of hard-pressed shoppers and with margins being squeezed and sales flat lining, the last thing retail needs this summer is increased overheads with little or no return.”
Although retailer’s can stay open for as long as they like, many have chosen to only slightly adjust their opening times. For example, the Trafford Centre in Manchester will open from 10am – 7pm instead of 12pm – 6pm for the next few weeks, whereas Meadowhall in Sheffield chose to open for only an extra two hours.
But the more south you go, the more retailers are taking advantage of the extended hours of trade. The Westfield shopping centre in Stratford, West London will open for 10 hours on a Sunday from 11am – 9pm until September – taking full advantage of the temporary change in law.
But some people feel the relaxation of trading laws is simply a test to see if people will utilise the extra hours available to potter around the high street and shopping centres. But Norman Lamb, the Business Minister argued that was not the case.
Norman said: “I want to make it clear that this is a temporary measure and not a test case for a permanent relaxation of the rules in the future.”
Will you be taking advantage of the extra hours to shop on a Sunday or do you think people’s shopping habits will remain unchanged for the next eight weeks?
Santander Funds Internship Programme for SMEs