The cost of lifting Sunday trade curbs

Have I missed something?

Last weekend the news bulletins were peppered by interviews with excited executives from some of the major retail chains, salivating at the prospect of an end to restrictions on Sunday trading.

It looks as though for certain these restrictions will be lifted for the Olympics.

In turn this will be used to justify the permanent end of any hours’ difference between Sunday and the rest of the week.

The case for lifting these restrictions during the Olympics doesn’t seem to me to stand up for a moment.

I was raised not far from Stratford, the site of the (amazing) Olympic Park.

As I saw for myself on Tuesday of this week, even the much-enlarged station there can barely cope. It will really struggle during the Olympics.

Having the big shops in the area closed for a few hours on Sundays will be a benefit.

As for areas beyond east London – I’m afraid I don’t follow the argument at all.

The Olympics may well affect levels of retail trade from day to day; just as the weather does.

But what affects it overall is how much money people feel they have, including any credit they think they can safely access.

So why are the big retailers peddling this tendentious stuff?

The answer is simple. They want an even bigger share of the retail cake, and, as usual, they are ruthless in its pursuit, regardless of the adverse effect on local convenience stores, some High Streets – and even more important , that Sunday is special.

Already there are claims about all the jobs these retail multiples will create. What they never do is net those figures off against the smaller (often family) shops which will shed jobs.

All stores can open for six hours on a Sunday. Is anyone seriously inconvenienced by this?

More people still attend church every week than go to football matches.

And whether people are believers or not, I think that our society is helped by having a rhythm to the week, not having every day the same.

Author: Jack Straw

Jack Straw was elected as the MP for Blackburn in 1979 and is currently the Secretary of State for Justice.

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