The Chancellor of the Exchequer is said to be preparing to announce tomorrow (8th July) that he will give local authorities responsibility for Sunday trading laws.
Currently all shops in the UK can open for six hours between 10am and 6pm on a Sunday. Small shops, those covering less than 3,000 square foot, are able to stay open for longer. Under Osborne’s plans, towns and cities in the UK would be able to let larger shops stay open for longer on Sundays, meaning some smaller retailers could be affected.
The Guardian reported that Osborne’s budget tomorrow would announce a consultation on devolving power over Sunday trading law to elected mayors, and also to local authorities.
Osborne said: “Even two decades on from the introduction of the Sunday Trading Act, it is clear that there is still a growing appetite for shopping on a Sunday. There is some evidence that transactions for Sunday shopping are actually growing faster than those for Saturday.
“The rise of online shopping, which people can do round the clock, also means more retailers want to be able to compete by opening for 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.
This will be another part of my plan to ensure a truly national recovery, with our great towns and cities able to determine their own futures.”
Booksellers were this morning absorbing the news. Peter Donaldson of the Red Lion Bookshop in Colchester, said he does not open on Sundays at all, and that he is unconcerned by larger retailers being able to open for long hours on the day. "Our local council has encouraged us to open on Sunday as much as possible," he said. "We've always resisted, partly due to personal inclination – I value Sunday as a day of a different nature and character – and on a commercial basis, because we do open on four or five Sundays in the run-up to Christmas and I don't think it would be beneficial [at other times]… All the books Tesco sell, we don't sell anyway – we've not sold one copy of Grey – and a lot of our customers would not be happy with us opening on Sundays, they think Sunday ought to remain different, for all sorts of reasons such as that it's good for family life."