Sunday – Politics and Greed?

QmarkNow, someone please help me. I am having a problem with this idea that we need shops to open longer on Sundays.
OK, as a Christian I admit I would prefer a quieter family-oriented day at least once a week [Sunday].

In our frenetic world we seem infatuated with the notion that every hour needs to be filled and the God of Retail needs to be worshipped non-stop.

But my problem of extending Sunday Trading hours is not that fundamental. After all I do go to the garden centre or pick up some milk if short.

I understand the threat from the internet but that is just the way progress goes, so;

  • 1: how will shops opening longer reduce online shopping – I can only see online trade continuing to grow?
  • 2: How does it increase the economy; unless we pay people more they are still limited to spend what they earn?
  • 3: We are told we have record employment and unemployment is falling fast; so we don’t need more working hours for the economy?
  • 4: And, for medical reasons, don’t we all actually need to have some break from the hurley burley of every day push and shove?

I am impressed by the retailer whose trading hours board says ‘Sunday Closed – a time for staff to share with their families’ A successful business that can work a six day week.
Ask who wants it and many people say yes – perhaps they are ardent weekend shoppers who just want to stay our longer? One argument is that people who work really only have weekends to shop. Well that was always true and I recognise that there were always long queues at the supermarket on a Friday evening or a Saturday morning.

But a lot has happened in those intervening years. Many retailers are now successfully selling on line as well as in store. John Lewis with partner Waitrose is a very successful example. I suspect they would prefer to see much more on line and that is borne out by the amount of publicity I get urging me to shop that way.

Look also at the agreement that Morrisons has made with Amazon to sell their produce on line. Like Sunday Trading, I assert, this not going to increase total UK trading but should change the mix giving Morrisons a greater share of the supermarket pot. That, of course will put further downward pressure on prices so that customers will have a bit more spare cash – but they don’t need more hours on Sundays to spend it.

So would extra hours on Sunday also help to spread the demand for in-store shopping?

Last December I was busking in Worcester High Street on the Thursday in the week before Christmas; late night Thursday shopping. What a great night to busk and the trader’s organisation was putting a lot of effort to attract trade into town for that night.
All I can say is where were all the shoppers? I couldn’t understand how quiet the City Centre was that evening. And we were outside Debenhams and Boots and opposite M&S!

I think that this matter is all smoke and mirrors to satisfy the profit greed of the already wealthy at the expense of low paid staff.

The retailers already have most of their overheads paid for so if they can possibly get that extra margin of business just for the cost of shop staff it may be worth doing. The trade won’t necessarily be additional UK income as I have expressed.

If there is any extra trade I think it will come from small traders and increased credit debt. Just consider, if you have £100 to spend you don’t spend just £80 because, on Sunday, the shops are not open long enough. And, I feel sure, the opening hours don’t determine whether you buy in the shop or on-line?

Trade on-line will continue to grow and I fear that extra business on Sundays will only be to help to offset some of the business loss to that channel during the week. I am not an economist so I can’t explain why the government knows there will be an increase in UK wealth as a result but, for my money, it is all politics and greed.