The extension of Sunday Trading hours currently being tabled is aimed at taking advantage of retailing opportunities during the Olympics.
Why are we talking about it now?
Conservative MP and former Morrisons and Marks & Spencer executive Mark Menzies tabled a proposal last week to allow retailers to extend Sunday trading hours during special occasions such as the Olympics.
What is in the draft bill?
The Sunday Trading (Amendment) Bill proposes giving local authorities the power to extend shopping hours for retail outlets in areas within its jurisdiction. The council would only be able to lift the trading restrictions as a temporary measure during special events.
Why is the amendment being tabled?
Menzies said the move would allow retailers to take advantage of tourist spending and boost the economy, along with providing more hours for shop workers. He used the London 2012 Olympic Games as an example. “This will be an exceptional period,” he said.
“Britain has invested billions of pounds into the Games and we must maximise the opportunity from the hundreds of thousands of new tourists that will come.”
Menzies argues the move will help retailers meet heightened demand during the Olympics, which is set to bring in at least £100m in extra revenues for retailers.
Would the move be welcomed by retailers?
Retailers are divided on the issue according to the BRC. The trade body said some of its members are in favour of further relaxation as they believe longer opening hours will increase demand.
In previous battles about Sunday trading, including a campaign to lift the restrictions on Boxing Day last year, which fell on a Sunday, retail heavyweights including Arcadia owner Sir Philip Green and Selfridges boss Paul Kelly have been vocal supporters of the move.
However, the BRC said other members prefer sticking to the current regime as it will merely spread out existing trade while increasing operational costs.
What happens next?
The bill is set to be read for a second time in November before a vote is taken.
It is likely to receive some opposition as Tory MP for Suffolk Coastal Therese Coffey has already vowed to vote against it as she fears it would force shop staff to work during the Games and spoil the occasion for them.
If there is opposition, the Bill will be up for discussion in the House of Commons.
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