Usdaw asks government for reassurance on Sunday trading hours
The shopworkersÂ’ union Usdaw has written to Business Secretary Vince Cable to seek assurance that the government has no plans to permanently deregulate Sunday trading hours in England and Wales.
The move comes following recent speculation that some ministers are lobbying for a permanent deregulation of Sunday trading laws following the temporary suspension for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The union is arguing that the government introduced the temporary suspension on the basis that it was neither a trial or a forerunner to permanent deregulation, and that any move to deregulate now would be regarded by Usdaw as betrayal of that commitment and a breach of trust.
Usdaw General Secretary John Hannett said: "Longer Sunday opening hours won’t put more money in the pockets of hard pressed shoppers and there is no evidence it would boost jobs or growth. It would however have a very detrimental impact on the family and caring commitments of our members and fly totally in the face of the Prime Ministers’ commitment to lead a family friendly Government.
"With margins being squeezed and sales flat lining, the last thing the retail sector needs at the moment is the prospect of increased overheads for little or no return. If the Government really wants to boost retail and the economy as a whole then it would be much better advised to immediately reduce the rate of VAT."
Separately Sainsbury’s has announced that it does not support a permanent extension to Sunday trading hours despite seeing strong trade at stores which opened longer during the Olympic Games.
A spokesperson for the supermarket said: "We took a pretty targeted approach, extending opening hours at stores affected by Olympic events - 30 of our 1,000 stores.
"We saw some great trading at those locations and were very pleased to be able to serve the unusual customer demand associated with the Games.
"That said, we don’t believe people are looking for Sunday trading to be extended on a permanent basis, with both customers and colleagues seeing the current status quo as a good British compromise."
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