Pricing signs hang on clothing outside a shop in London, Britain on June 3, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-ENGLAND-SUNDAY, originally transmitted on July 7, 2015.

All-day Sunday shopping may be in the cards in Britain

Pricing signs hang on clothing outside a shop in London, Britain on June 3, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-ENGLAND-SUNDAY, originally transmitted on July 7, 2015.

Pricing signs hang on clothing outside a shop in London on June 3, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett
*Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-ENGLAND-SUNDAY, originally transmitted on July 7, 2015.


 This image is available for web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

CANTERBURY, England (RNS) Christian traditionalists may not like it one bit, but all-day Sunday shopping may be in the cards in Britain.

Chancellor George Osborne says that on Wednesday (July 8), he will propose in Parliament that communities be allowed to lift restrictions on supermarkets and department stores to let them trade all day on Sundays starting early next year. Smaller shops would also be permitted to open as long as they like on Sundays as long as local mayors and civil leaders see it as being necessary.

The move would bring London into line with Paris and New York, where no restrictions on Sunday shopping exist.

Strict anti-Sunday shopping laws came into being in the 19th century, under Queen Victoria.

In 1986, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher tried to do away with them but she met stiff opposition from traditionalists and Christian churches.

Two decades later a compromise was reached, and most shops are now allowed to open for six hours on Sunday.

Osborne said that the U.K.’s Conservative-led government was persuaded to liberalize Sunday shopping laws to boost the economy. In London alone, Sunday business would create 3,000 more jobs and generate extra income for central businesses by 200 million pounds a year, say economists.

Just before this year’s general election in May, the Conservatives said they had "no current plans to relax Sunday trading laws."

At that time the Church of England issued a statement saying, "We believe that for family stability and community life, as many people as possible should have the possibility of a common day off every week."

Under current laws, Christians who object to working on Sundays cannot be fired by their firms. Trade unions are expected to seek assurances that those rights are not eroded under planned legislation that would accompany the change.  

LM/MG END GRUNDY

Comments

  1. Good to see a clear cut case of Christian privilege headed for the ax. We non-Christians don’t get this benefit:

    “As a privileged Christian, you can be sure that you will be given your holy day off, no questions asked, and will be able to see others forced to honor your holy day, regardless of their religion. If they object and ask for their holy day off, you can be assured that they will be discriminated against.”

    If anyone wants to make the argument that people should have a day a week off, then that can be done by passing a law that everyone can ask for their choice of a day off each week.

  2. Under US law, employers generally are required to give reasonable religious accomodations, like a day off on an employee’s sabbath, unless it creates an undue hardship on the employer.

  3. Slight correction: England & Wales, not Britain. There are no restrictions on shops opening on Sundays in Scotland.

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