STUART McGINLEY: We should respond to Sunday trading demand

Back in the 80s I used to hate Sundays, it always seemed a slow day with not much to do, although admittedly we did live out in the Suffolk countryside!

Those bleak winter days just dragged with only Songs of Praise or Highway to watch on the telly, not something that really interested a ten-year-old!

Once Bullseye came on, you knew it was bathtime and then a new week at school beckoned, which I didn’t mind so much as at least it was something to do!

So I was delighted when Sunday trading laws were relaxed 20 years ago to at least allow some of the bigger stores to open on Sundays, but only for a maximum of six trading hours, it’s clearly something the majority of the public wanted as the demand is still there.

Things have rapidly changed further now in the past decade with the internet shopping revolution that has totally transformed our shopping habits, the high street has been struggling to keep up and as a result some town and city centres have seen many well-known brands and established local businesses shutting up shop or moving out of town to a retail park.

There are some exceptions of course and Chichester is always busy, but just a few miles down the A27, Havant has clearly not been so fortunate.

We want to shop 24/7 it seems now and so why turn away people willing to spend money on our high streets?

I totally understand the concerns about staff being forced to work on a Sunday and the importance of family time, but surely there can be a 
compromise here?

If Sunday trading laws are to be relaxed again, surely it wouldn’t be too difficult for the government to introduce some legislation to insist that staff who work on a Sunday 
can do so voluntarily and will not be penalised if they choose not to.

Retailers could hire some extra part-time staff who could plug the gap if they decide to open on a Sunday, or for longer.

I’m not suggesting shops should open 24/7, but we should respond to the consumer demand now or I believe we will see even more boarded-up shops, deserted high streets and job losses.

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