Sainsbury's chief opposes longer Sunday opening hours
Plans to extend Olympic opening hours are 'not a magic answer' for UK economy
JUSTIN KING, chief executive of Sainsbury's, has attacked plans to allow large shops to open for longer on Sundays.
Usually shops larger than 3000 square feet are only allowed to open for six hours on Sundays. However, emergency legislation has temporarily permitted stores to trade for longer during the Olympic and Paralympic games, allowing retailers to cash in on the influx of tourists.
The BBC reports that Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has said he is willing to look into the possibility of making the legislation permanent, as ministers and members of the business lobby believe it has the potential to generate urgently-needed growth.
Mark Wallace, of the Institute of Development, said: "We know there are people out of work or underemployed who desperately want more opportunities and we know there is an appetite among consumers to shop during normal hours on Sundays, so it is silly to have a rule that holds both groups back."
But in a letter to The Sunday Telegraph King argued that "relaxing Sunday Trading laws is certainly not a magic answer to economic regeneration... Maintaining Sunday's special status has great merit for our customers and our colleagues.
"Those calling for a permanent change will need to demonstrate a strong economic case for any change to be justified. We will certainly not be calling for change."
And he is not alone. The Sunday Telegraph also published a letter from John Hannett, the general secretary of shop workers' union Usdaw, Rt Rev John Pritchard, the Bishop of Oxford, and James Lowman, the chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores. They said they were "alarmed" to hear ministers were considering permanent change.
"Longer opening hours won't put more money in the pockets of shoppers. There is no evidence it would boost jobs or growth." they wrote.
They added that increased Sunday trading hours would have a "detrimental impact" on family life and affect smaller businesses that benefit from large stores being shut. Sunday, they said, should remain "a day when the nation can take a collective breather from the stresses of modern life".