Councillors have voted against increasing Sunday trading in Belfast, following concerns that family life would suffer.
Belfast City Council’s strategic policy and resources committee rejected the proposal in May by twelve votes to three. The proposal was to designate Belfast as a ‘holiday resort’, under the Northern Ireland’s Shops Order 1997 and allow all-day opening on 18 days a year.
Shopworkers’ union USDAW spoke out against the plans during a consultation period, saying members were concerned that all-day shopping would have a detrimental effect on families. Nearly 2,500 individuals and organisations had responded to the consultation. The BBC reported that the DUP, Sinn Féin and SDLP all opposed the measure in the council vote.
Small trader group Retail NI welcomed the vote, saying, ‘This puts down an important marker to the other ten local councils not to consider relaxing Sunday trading through the backdoor of resort status’.
John Hannett, general secretary of USDAW, has previously warned that workers would come under ‘additional pressure’ to work on Sundays if shops are open longer. USDAW carried out a survey of over 600 of their members in Northern Ireland in November last year, during which nearly two-thirds of respondents said they had come under pressure to work on Sundays.