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Drapers Debate: Should shops be able to open longer on a Sunday permanently once the games are over?

Drapers’ Victoria Gallagher and Ruth Faulkner discuss the Sunday trading hours.

Ruth Faulkner

NO. I don’t believe the shops should continue to have relaxed Sunday Trading hours after the games have finished. Personally, I don’t think there is any need when most of the shops in central London are open until at least 8pm most week nights and some of them even stay open until 8pm on Saturdays as well. Is it really necessary for stores to be open for this long on a Sunday as well?

I know that those in favour of the move would say it is a good thing for the economy – giving consumers more time to shop and encouraging them to part with their hard earned cash. However, retailers have reported struggling enough in the current economic climate, without having the associated overheads of having to open for longer on a Sunday.

The general public at large are not used to being able to shop on a Sunday evening and, as a result, probably wouldn’t do even if they could. Sunday evenings are for relaxing before you start the working week and not charging round the shops.

With this in mind, I wouldn’t think it would be worth many retailers taking advantage of longer Sunday opening hours as they would have to pay out to staff their shops when the likelihood is that they wouldn’t get many customers anyway.

If people really are that desperate to shop after hours on a Sunday then surely they could just do so online? Countless retailers have already said that future growth is likely to come from online and internationally, so it makes little sense to be investing more into having bricks-and-mortar stores open for longer.


YES. Surely in these tough economic times retailers need every chance possible to reap as many sales as they can.

If opening for slightly longer on a Sunday helps then so be it. Retailers, in particular indies, are struggling and so additional trading hours could potentially mean businesses remain in the black and can continue to trade. If the traditional Sunday trading hours go back to normal after the Olympics we could see further desolation on the high streets.

Extended opening hours could also help the general wider economy, something which most definitely needs a boost at the moment. Extra shopping hours means added footfall and additional pennies in the tills, something to help lift the depressed climate. If we eradicated Sunday trading hours altogether we may be one step closer to repairing the economy.

In having extra opening hours retailers may also be able to employ additional staff, something which will once again help the economy by reducing the rate of unemployment.

With people’s lives getting busier and busier many don’t have time to scoot round the shops at lunchtime or after work, therefore having shops open for longer at the weekend would give the general public the perfect time to shop. Also on Sundays many people would be more relaxed and have time to browse giving retailers the opportunity to encourage additional purchases.

Extending opening hours during the Olympics will be the perfect trial to see how retailers fare without restrictions and in my opinion something that could see the UK economy wining gold.

Readers' comments (6)

  • My gut instinct on this issue is to favour the 'no' camp.

    I can see this really only favouring the big chains who have plenty enough footfall as it is to not need this extension and shopping centres where the extended hours would keep people around so they spend money at cinemas and restaurants. Conversely indies and small operations will find it expensive, particularly those operating in the fashion sector.

    I for one would not be up for schlepping round a high street clothes shopping at 8pm on a Sunday - I'd be far more inclined to shop online at that time, probably looking for fashionable stretchy trousers after a Sunday lunch. It would be interesting to hear the pure play onliners like ASOS, Net and My Wardrobe's take on this and whether they anticipate sales being hit on Sunday nights...

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  • Why not allow shops the option of opening and then if they don't want to they don't have to? I would have thought if you're spending on rent etc, every minute you can be open would help - especially in a world where bricks and mortar are increasingly having to compete with etail. It may well not work at first, and you might have to take a hit with staff costs initially, but once people are used to being able to shop later on Sundays I would expect that footfall to increase - the old "if you build it they will come" philosophy.

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  • Though I should add, I will be joining Ian in virtual shops looking at stretchy trousers

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  • How is there even an argument for the 'No' view when stores won't be forced to open on a Sunday, merely given the option to? Surely it's better to let bigger chains and shopping centers have the option if they find it profitable than to have a blanket ban.

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  • I am 100% in favour of not continuing relaxed Sunday trading hours after the Olympics.

    I work in retail and I can not see how being open an extra hour or two on Sunday is really going to bring in the money and rescue the economy. We were open for an extra hour this Sunday just gone and within that hour managed to serve a grand total of six customers who were just buying last minute items with the most expensive transaction being a massive £15! Where I work we have also not employed additional staff to work the extra Sunday hours we are just expected to work longer as they do not have the budget for additional staff and I doubt if longer trading on Sundays is made permanent they will do so.

    Yes perhaps if we do stay open for longer on a Sunday even after the Olympics people will get wise and perhaps the footfall will increase and bring in much more money but do people not already have enough time to shop and spend their money?! We can already shop 24/7 on-line and as said retailers are putting more emphasis on on-line shopping and where I work even sacrificing having product in store in favour of getting customers to order on-line and pick up in store.

    I honestly believe shops are open for long enough without opening for longer on Sundays, we have coped long enough without the extra hours. I do enjoy working in retail however I don't seem to have much of a social or family life any more having to work much later nights, weekends and now longer Sundays! Are we not allowed a relaxing Sunday evening? Or even to enjoy the 'people's' Olympics?

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  • Amy, you are effectively saying that because trading an extra hour on a Sunday didn't work for your store that the government should abandon the idea completely, which is absurd. I'm not sure of the company you work for of course, but I am sure most larger stores and supermarkets etc. would benefit from the permanent extension of opening hours, if not from the additional revenue then for the other tasks that staff could spend doing whilst they are there, such as inventory/housekeeping/deliveries and so forth which would benefit them during the rest of the working week.

    Perhaps Sunday trading could operate around the premise that "click and collect customers" could collect from their local store on Sundays as the idea progresses with customers? Who knows?

    Your lack of social/family life is regrettable but it's the job you signed up for at the end of the day.

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