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PM faces backlash from cabinet members over Sunday trading laws

Prime minister Boris Johnson is facing backlash from three members of his cabinet over plans to suspend the Sunday trading laws which currently only allow certain shops to open after 10 am until 4 pm.

Lawmakers have written to the prime minister voicing concern about the proposition which has currently been proposed in the coronavirus recovery bill advising that this will attracted opposition and concerns from people.

The Sunday trading laws are as follows;

Under the Sunday Trading Act 1994, the limits on shop opening hours are:

  • Small shops (under 280 sq m/3,000 sq ft) - no restrictions on opening

  • Large shops (over 280 sq m/3,000 sq ft) - Monday to Saturday - no restrictions; Sunday - Opening for 6 continual hours only, between 10am and 6pm; Easter Sunday - closed

In addition to regulating opening by large shops on Sunday, the Sunday Trading Act 1994 prohibits large shops from opening on Easter Sunday.

“The majority of the public are in favour of the existing Sunday trading regulations, which strike the right balance between the needs of shop workers, consumers, high streets, small shops and supermarkets”, James Lowman, the chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, said

“Changing the current laws would serve only to displace trade from the local shops that have been keeping communities going during this pandemic. If anything, local shops and other retailers have been reducing the number of opening hours in their business to keep their staff safe whilst restocking and cleaning stores, and we expect non-essential retailers to operate with limited hours when they reopen later this month.

“There are many measures that have been recommended through high street reviews and task forces in recent years that could support the recovery of high street businesses, but at no point has a change to Sunday trading regulations been considered and with good reason. To upset the balance that has been struck on opening hours on Sundays would put small shops at risk, with increased costs but no guaranteed benefits for their larger counterparts.”

Rayhan Haque, the founder of the London Good Work Commission, which was established by London Plus, the hub body for the capital’s 120,000 voluntary organisations, said: “Any plans to suspend Sunday trading laws is a bad idea. Sundays give independent shops and smaller retailers, who have been hit the hardest from the economic meltdown, a rare chance to compete with big corporate supermarkets. This also normalises a seven-day working culture, exactly the opposite of the better work-life balance people want post-COVID-19.”

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