Sunday trading laws mooted for relaxation

Sunday Trading laws that currently only permit shops of a certain size to open for a maximum of six hours look set to be relaxed in a bid to drive economic recovery.

Said to be supported by the Prime Minister and the Treasury, the move comes in part in a bid to secure jobs as unemployment levels are expected to remain high in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Government has proposed that the move will last for one year only and will come in tandem with fast-tracked plans to allow cafes and pubs to serve outdoor food and drink.

At present, the laws (applicable under the Sunday Trading Act 1994) apply only to large retail stores measuring 280 square metres or above. The proposed alterations are therefore most likely to include larger retail outlets like Halfords, Decathlon and Go Outdoors, which tend to command large spaces on retail parks.

While the proposal would enable shoppers to take advantage of longer hours, the idea has drawn criticism for its likely impact on what are very often low-paid retail staff.

“You can bet that it will not be temporary,” Tweeted Joe Dromey Labour and Co-operative party councillor for Lewisham on Saturday. “This must be blocked,” he added.

Previous attempts to water down Sunday trading legislation have been blocked, most recently under David Cameron’s Conservative Government where numerous MPs broke party lines to block changes.

Smaller bicycle retail shops will remain unaffected by the changes, bar perhaps an increase in competition over what is often the more lucrative end of the week for takings.

The Coronavirus pandemic has proved an unexpected boon for bicycle shops around the globe as other transport forms have been restricted or discouraged due to distancing rules. There is now significant concern in the trade that stock shortages will now affect further summer trading potential.