Coronavirus: Grocers may be forced to extend Sunday opening hours

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Alok Sharma Sunday trading hours Big 4 grocers covid-19
Business secretary Alok Sharma said he had launched a review this week of the laws
// New government proposals may see UK grocers have to stay open for longer on Sundays
// Business secretary Alok Sharma is considering the longer shopping hours

The government is drawing up new proposals which could mean supermarkets will stay open for longer on Sundays in a bid to make it easier for customers to buy essentials.

Business secretary Alok Sharma said he had launched a review this week of the laws that currently restrict Sunday opening times to six hours.

Sharma told the Commons Business Select Committee on Thursday that he was considering longer shopping hours on Sundays.


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The idea has since been introduced to 40 MPs on behalf of some retailers.

Earlier this month, Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani and Labour MP Peter Kyle wrote a letter to argue that a temporary relaxation could allow NHS staff with more shopping time, while also shortening queues.

However, this has been opposed by the shopworkers’ union Usdaw.

Moreover, the beginning of March saw supermarkets faced with high demand in certain products as customers stocked up on essential products due to fears prompted by the coronavirus outbreak.

Since then, demand for such products has returned to more normal levels, and the need to maintain social distancing has restricted the number of customers that managers can allow into stores.

Meanwhile, the six-hour Sunday trading window constrains the numbers the supermarkets can serve.

However, some grocers have already changed their opening hours, with Morrisons opening an hour early on Sunday, in defiance of the current rules.

While Aldi and Lidl have been in favour of extended Sunday hours, larger grocers such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s and the Co-op have been less enthusiastic.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Dont think that’s is entirely right extending hours on a sunday for anyone people having family sunday should be a day off rest it’s all about money they dont think about the poor staff that have to work that’s really selfish

    • Deborah, Do you think all shops should close all day on a Sunday so everyone stays at home? When do shift workers shop if everywhere is closed on a Sunday. Some people enjoy shopping.
      The staff have a choice of working a Sunday or opting out. No one is forced to work. It all about having a choice.
      Customers and families have a choice and can stay at home if they don’t want to shop.
      Businesses obviously need to make money, they are not charities. Charities even need to make money to pay overheads. Successful businesses offer their customers a choice. Let the customers and businesses decide.

      • not true regarding staff having a choice. My sister has to work on a Sunday otherwise she would be out of a job. How do you think everybody managed before shops were open on a Sunday? As for shift workers – they can still shop at other times. They are not working 24/6 the rest of the week. There is no good reason for opening on a Sunday especially with the long use by dates on essentials and fridges. I would go further and say shops should be closed for 3 days at Christmas. People can plan to have enough food and usually buy too much anyway

  2. IMHO in makes sense to open longer and spread the load for supermarkets.
    As a shift worker I can only shop early or late, neither of which is an option at the moment.
    Also, with lower footfall due to distancing, stores could make better use of staff and supplies, whilst remaining viable.
    USDAW should think about the nation, not just their members

  3. I believe this to be a very good idea to give people time to shop for essentials and avoid busy times. I appreciate this will be a change for staff but surely safer for all if we can avoid more people in stores with wider options of opening hours. Also from a staff point of view it must reassure them of the job security which not all have at the moment.

  4. Staff should be exposed to customers as least as possible, we do not need extended opening hours on Sunday. We are open 8am to 10pm Monday to Saturday, that’s 14 hours a day. We are open 10am to 4pm to Sunday, that’s 6 hours a day. That is more than enough hours to get your shopping, more so if your not currently working!
    Whilst I accept that NHS Staff and Carers are taking the most risk, we as Retail staff are also on the front line. Store’s can have anywhere between 10,000 to 25,000 customers a week, that is a lot of risk to staff.

  5. The idea of opening for longer on a Sunday is totally wrong in so many ways. Staff working on a Sunday do not have the choice as I know from experience as my son is one of these workers. It used to be the case that if you worked on a Sunday you were automatically paid double time, and Saturday work was paid at time and a half. You were never just told you had to do it for approx. £9 per hour. What has happened to all of the “We are so proud of our key workers – these are the people who are keeping the country going” and now it is planned to inflict this on thousands of supermarket staff. I agree wholeheartedly with Graham Sanger above. Now is the time to get your priorities right – look after the people who do the real work – properly. When shops were open for less hours, people got their shopping done during those times and now with the internet it is easiest it has ever been.

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