A reader poll conducted by the Bradley Stoke Journal has shown significant support for a change in the law to allow large stores to open longer on Sundays.
The news comes days before what is expected to be the busiest shopping Sunday for many years (23rd December) when large stores will be restricted to just six hours of trading, despite pleas from several supermarket groups for a one-off exception to be made.
The poll was started in the summer, at the beginning of the seven week period over which the Government relaxed Sunday trading rules around the time of the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.
Of the 480 readers who voted in our poll, 233 (49%) said they would like large stores to be allowed to open as long as they liked on Sundays.
Slightly less than half that number, 110 (23%), indicated that they would like to see the current restriction of six hours trading retained.
Of the other options listed in the poll, 76 (16%) voted for keeping restrictions but extending the permitted hours and 61 (12%) said they would like to see large stores prevented from opening at all on Sundays.
Bradley Stoke’s Willow Brook Centre says the longer trading hours over the summer were popular with shoppers, who chose to visit later and in greater numbers on Sundays.
Centre Manager Scott Lahive told The Journal:
“Extended Sunday opening hours, whilst only temporary, did prove to be very successful. We saw customer numbers grow by 10% – 15% for the Sunday and did not see less activity on other days in the week.”
“The trading patterns for these six weeks provided an insight in to how customers really want to shop as customer numbers between the traditional hours of 10am– 4pm dropped 15% as customers chose to shop outside of this and later in the day.”
“It is debatable as to whether Sunday hours should be totally unrestricted. I feel that the changes in shopping patterns did establish a need for additional shopping hours on a Sunday. Customers may not want to shop much earlier but do want to shop later, 9am – 6pm or 7pm would fulfil this. If employees were not forced into working these hours and given the option to work that would safeguard individuals.”
“At the moment once the shops close people go home and shop online. Given the fact the restriction was only lifted for 6 weeks and it was a success, if it was made permanent this would grow further as customers become familiar with the extra choice.”
When Sunday trading laws were relaxed during the summer, retail workers were given the right to opt-out of Sunday working. Permanent deregulation of Sunday trading is opposed by the unions, who claim it would do little to stimulate growth or create jobs but would have a detrimental impact on the lives of millions of shopworkers and their families.
The Tesco Extra store at the Willow Brook Centre will close at midnight on Saturday (22nd December) and re-open for six hours of trading on Sunday, from 10am to 4pm. It will then re-open at midnight and trade until 7pm on Christmas Eve.
Elsewhere in the local area, Sainsbury’s has said it will open its stores an hour early on Sunday to give shoppers extra time to browse before trading begins.
Top photo: Shoppers rush into the Willow Brook Centre on its opening day in October 2008.
Related link: Christmas Opening Hours in Bradley Stoke (The Journal)
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