Sunday Trading Laws Relaxed for the Olympics

Sunday trading laws will be relaxed during the Olympics and Paralympics to allow firms to benefit, the Government has announced.

From 22 July to 9 September 2012, Sunday trading laws, which usually stop high-street, mall and retail park stores opening for more than six hours, will be relaxed. Small shops — with a floor area of less than 280 square meters — are already allowed to stay open all day. There are no special Sunday restrictions on what goods can be sold.

Prior to the announcement, Chancellor George Osborne told the BBC:

“We’ve got the whole world coming to London and the rest of the country for the Olympics. It would be a great shame — particularly when some of the big Olympic events are on Sunday — if the country had a closed for business sign on it.”

Business groups had varied views. The Association of Convenience Stores’ chief executive James Lowman said:

“Sunday trading relaxation will present artificial growth in large stores and supermarkets paid for by loss of trade in local shops up and down the country.”

“The Government is undertaking this measure without any consultation after twice rejecting the idea last year. This will cost small businesses more than £480 million and wipes out any hopes local shops had for a sales boost from the Olympics.”

However, a spokesman at the Forum of Private Business (FPB) took a more upbeat view:

“Sunday trading during the Olympics seems a sensible idea. The country will be swamped with visitors who may not understand the UK’s customs and practices, and the Sunday trading laws as they stand could well catch them out.”

But the FPB spokesman added a caution:

“There may be some concern, understandably, that this is a sign of things to come. For small, independent shops opening on Sunday could be cost prohibitive, and dilute trade still further with the bigger players like supermarkets.”

“It’s quite likely while most small shops would welcome a temporary respite from the trading laws during the Olympics, many would not want it permanently.”

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