Sunday trading laws to be relaxed

<p>Shops in England and Wales could be open longer on Sundays to boost economic activity.</p>

Chancellor George Osborne is expected to unveil plans that would allow shops in England and Wales to be open for longer on Sundays.

The proposal, which will be included in the Wednesday (July 8th) budget, will give elected mayors and councils powers to relax laws locally if it might boost economic activity.

Currently, the laws allow for smaller shops to be open all day. Those over 280 sq m can only be open six hours.

The Association of Convenience Stores criticised the plan, saying that it could lead to some small shops struggling. However, research by the New West End Company, which represents some 600 businesses in London, indicated that two extra hours of Sunday trading could create nearly 3,000 jobs and generate more than £200 million a year in extra sales in the capital.

During the Olympic and Paralympic Games, a scheme was trialled to allow stores to be open longer on Sundays.

According to Mr Osborne, there is a "growing appetite" for shopping on Sundays, but the decisions to relax the laws in a manner similar to what was done in 2012 should be done on a local level. 

"There is some evidence that transactions for Sunday shopping are actually growing faster than those for Saturday," he said, adding that the rise of online shopping – which people can do at any time – means that retailers need to compete by being open longer at the weekend.

"But this won't be right for every area, so I want to devolve the power to make this decision to mayors and local authorities," he said.

Sundays are "miserable"

Small business minister Anna Soubry agrees with the decision.

She said Sunday is the most "miserable" day of the week and believes it's a myth that families use the day of rest to come together, reports the BBC.

"The only thing to look forward to was Sing Something Simple on the radio. Goodness me, if that didn't sum up a miserable Sunday," she commented.

While she conceded that people do enjoy going to church and switching off, she also thinks that being more flexible with retail options will "brighten up" the day for many people. It will also add jobs and improve flexibility for those who work unusual hours, she said.​

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