Grocery chain Sainsbury’s has refused to extend Sunday trading hours despite suggestions that the Government may be seeking permanent deregulation, it has been announced today.
Yesterday, shopworkers’ union Usdaw called on the Government to stick to its initial promise that the changes would last solely for the period of the Olympic Games in order to deal with increased demand, writing to Business Secretary Vince Cable to seek urgent assurance on the matter.
Sunday trading laws were relaxed over the six week period allowing retailers to opt for 24 hour trading during the busy period in order to capitalise on increased shopper numbers.
However, Sainsbury’s has said that this is not a long-term prospect, with a spokesperson for the supermarket commenting: “We took a pretty targeted approach, extending opening hours at stores affected by Olympic events - 30 of our 1,000 stores.
“We saw some great trading at those locations and were very pleased to be able to serve the unusual customer demand associated with the Games.
“That said, we don’t believe people are looking for Sunday trading to be extended on a permanent basis, with both customers and colleagues seeing the current status quo as a good British compromise.”
Usdaw noted that the Government had pushed through temporary measures only and that it had promised that the move was neither a trial nor an introductory measure pending permanent deregulation.
Usdaw General Secretary John Hannett said: “”Longer Sunday opening hours won’t put more money in the pockets of hard pressed shoppers and there is no evidence it would boost jobs or growth. It would however have a very detrimental impact on the family and caring commitments of our members and fly totally in the face of the Prime Ministers’ commitment to lead a family friendly Government.
“With margins being squeezed and sales flat lining, the last thing the retail sector needs at the moment is the prospect of increased overheads for little or no return. If the Government really wants to boost retail and the economy as a whole then it would be much better advised to immediately reduce the rate of VAT.”