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Scrapping Sunday trading laws ‘is no magic answer’

Government plans to consider relaxing Sunday trading laws on a permanent basis have sparked criticism from groups opposing the measure.

Current legislation means that shops with a floor space of more than 3,000 square feet are normally limited to a maximum trading time of six hours on a Sunday, between the hours of 10am and 6pm.

However, for the duration of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, supermarkets and larger stores have been able to enjoy extended trading hours.

At the time of the extension, the Government stated that it was not considering making the temporary relaxation more permanent.

However, communities secretary Eric Pickles has more recently commented that he is willing to consider looking at the impact of the relaxation on trade.

Responding to the news, the chief executive of Sainsbury’s, Justin King, said, ‘Maintaining Sunday’s special status has great merit for our customers and our colleagues, and relaxing Sunday Trading laws is certainly not a magic answer to economic regeneration’.

Meanwhile, the workers’ union Usdaw and the Association of Convenience Stores have commented that longer opening hours ‘won’t put more money in the pockets of shoppers’.

In a joint letter to the Sunday Telegraph, the organisations warned that ‘with margins being squeezed and sales flatlining, the last thing the retail sector needs is increased overheads for little or no return’.