Christian campaigners have lent their support to secular groups and trade unions attempting to lobby against the government’s plans to relax Sunday trading laws.
A consultation, which ended in September, proposed extending trading hours on Sundays, although there has been no legislation yet to give effect to the proposals. However, according to USDAW, the shopkeeper’s union, traders are worried about the effect on health and home life for workers.
In a poll of more than 10,000 shop workers — the results of which were passed to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) as part of the consultation — more than 90 per cent said they opposed any extension to the trading hours.
John Hannett, general secretary of USDAW, said, ‘Shop workers value their Sundays, and the shorter opening hours for large stores helps them to balance their working life with responsibilities at home.
‘Even so, over one-third of staff in large stores would prefer to work fewer hours on Sundays. That figure is much higher in small stores that are allowed to open for longer, with over half wanting a shorter working Sunday’.
Christian groups have also responded to the consultation. The Lord’s Day Observance Society, part of Day One Ministries, urged Christians to email their MPs to make them aware of their opposition to the effects of the proposals.
In his blog, Mark Roberts, director of Day One, said, ‘Let’s do all that we can to stop this proposal, which would further undermine family life by making it even less likely that parents will have time to spend together to invest in their relationship with each other, and with their children too’.
Under current law, large shops over 3000sqft can open for a maximum of six hours on a Sunday. The governments believe that relaxing the laws will help high street shops compete better with online retailers.
Christian Concern and the Christian Institute also urged Christians to pray. In a statement, Christian Concern said, ‘A day of “shared rest” is built in to God’s design for creation, for the good of all.
‘Erosion of Sunday trading restrictions will make it harder for some families to spend time together. It may also make it harder for some people to attend church. Please help us to oppose these changes’.