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Olympic Games prompts relaxation of Sunday trading laws

The government is planning to lift all Sunday trading restrictions for eight weeks in July and August during the London Olympics and Paralympics in an attempt maximise the economic potential of the sporting event.

Ministers are to rush through a law to allow a temporary lifting of the current restrictions which allow large shops to trade for a maximum of six hours on Sundays.

Chancellor George Osborne said: "We have got the whole world coming to London and the rest of the country for the Olympics. It would be a great shame, particularly when some of the big Olympic events are on a Sunday, if the country had a 'closed for business' sign on it."

The lifting of the restrictions is expected to particularly benefit those shopping centres near the Olympic site, such as Westfield Stratford City, as well as stores in central London.

The government is also believed to be considering a permanent relaxation of the Sunday trading restrictions. In an interview with Sky News Foreign Secretary William Hague appeared to not rule out the move when he said: "What is being talked about is during the period of Olympics, of course that is a rather special period in this country coming up this summer and if that is done then of course we’ll have to see the outcome of that and the reactions to that before coming to any wider conclusions."

However the news has met with fierce opposition from shop workers union Usdaw which will meet with culture secretary Jeremy Hunt tomorrow to voice its concerns.

John Hannett, the union’s General Secretary said: "Our members are vehemently opposed to any further deregulation of Sunday trading hours.

"Deregulation would do little to stimulate growth or create jobs, but would have a very detrimental impact on the lives of millions of shopworkers and their families. Any change would fly totally in the face of the government’s commitment to be family-friendly."

Source : The Retail Bulletin

19 March 2012
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