Business bosses have given a mixed reaction to plans to loosen up Sunday trading laws.
Chancellor George Osborne will unveil proposals to let elected mayors and councils relax laws, which prevent larger stores opening their doors for more than six hours in today’s Budget.
Sunderland Business Improvement District boss Ken Dunbar, said: “Anything that supports business growth and prosperity is to be supported, especially where it leads to an increase in footfall and jobs. We accept Sundays will be a day of religious observance for many, but it’s also an opportunity for more people to make the best of their leisure time.
“People’s working hours, shopping and leisure habits have changed dramatically over the years and we now expect shops to be open at times when more people have the time to shop.
“It’s one of many ways to create a healthier high street and tackle the challenge of online shopping.”
However, Washington Galleries manager David McNee was unconvinced that longer Sunday opening was necessary.
“I am not sure it would make a big impact for us,” he said. “During the week, we get 40,000 people through the door. On a Sunday, that falls significantly, to about 20,000.
“With a couple of extra hours, would we see an uplift in footfall? I am not sure we would. I can see that it would be attractive to some customers, but I think people are used to Sunday trading hours and I don’t think it causes people a lot of inconvenience.
“I don’t think there would be a huge amount of demand from people locally.”
Leader of Sunderland City Council, Councillor Paul Watson said: “The Chancellor’s proposals to give local authorities powers over Sunday trading hours are certainly interesting, but we will need time to engage with businesses in the city and consider together what the benefits and implications might be for businesses in Sunderland both now and in the longer term.”
‘Vote with our feet and wallets’
Proposed changes to Sunday trading laws met with a mixed response from Echo readers.
Writing on our Facebook page, Liz Taylor wrote: “Some of the big stores are open 24 hours, only closing on a Saturday night until Sunday morning and open for six hours.
“I think that’s plenty of time to get your shopping in.
“Do you really think it’ll create more jobs because I don’t?
“People have only got so much money, once it’s gone, it’s gone, it doesn’t matter how long the shops are open.”
Gary Bartoszewski said: “I work in retail and do a 9am-6pm Sat shift, and a 10-5 Sunday, along with 3 weekday shifts.
“The only saving grace is the 5pm Sunday shift.”
Paul Murphy added: “Anyone who cannot get their main shop done during the week has a slight problem.”
Lynn Davidson wrote: “Sunday is just another day. Why not open longer for those who want it, you don’t have to shop on a Sunday if you don’t want to, other professions don’t have reduced hours on a Sunday.”
John Stephen McGill said: “Honestly, if the Government choose to not police opening hours (and let’s be honest, they shouldn’t) then we can all as a society vote with our feet and our wallets on this.
“If you don’t think shops should open on a Sunday – then don’t use them.”
Vickie Doughty wrote: “Not every shop in retail can afford the extra staff!
“Just because they can open an extra few hours doesn’t mean the money is there for extra staff.
“It won’t bring more people out, it will just let them spread the day out instead.”
And Rebecca Royle added: “It’s about time the shops opened longer on a Sunday.
“It’s still a day of work and for us that have to work on a Sunday and can’t get there til after four, it helps!”