Plans to lift restrictions on Sunday opening hours for large shops during the Olympics and Paralympics are a temporary measure and will not be implemented permanently after the Games, the Government has confirmed.
Trade union Usdaw, which represents retail, distributive, manufacturing and service workers, had raised fears that the suspension of Sunday trading regulations would continue beyond the Games, describing it as “an attempt by the Tory-led coalition to deregulate Sunday trading by the backdoor”.
However, business minister Mark Prisk has confirmed that the suspension of Sunday trading restrictions is temporary and that it will not be “a test case for a permanent relaxation of the rules in the future”.
The suspension, which was announced in the Chancellor’s March Budget and received Royal Assent this week, will mean that large shops in England and Wales can open for longer hours during the Olympics and Paralympics in order to take full advantage of trading boosted by the Games.
Currently, large shops are limited to opening times of six hours between 10am and 6pm on Sundays. The suspension will begin on Sunday 22 July, several days before the start of the Olympics, and will be repealed immediately after the Paralympics on 9 September.
Prisk said: “The Olympic and Paralympic Games are almost upon us and you can sense the excitement building. This will be a fantastic opportunity to showcase not just London, but the whole of the country to the rest of the world and provide a boost for the economy, sales and employment.
“Retail workers will keep all their legal protections, such as the right to opt out of Sunday working, but many will want to take the opportunity to work extra or different hours. I want employers to work with their staff so that we can all make the most of the Olympics.”