Neil Pickford - Let us shop when ever we want to

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Chancellor George Osborne will this week tell MPs that he has decided to suspend Sunday trading laws for eight weeks during the Olympics and Paralympics.

The move, which will allow bigger shops to open for more than six hours is supposed to only be a temporary measure.

But, and I’m sure I am not alone in this, why shouldn’t our shops be able to open when they want and for as long as they want?

Amazon and other on-line retailers do not close down for 18 hours on Sundays, and neither should they.

This country has some appallingly archaic legislation that has simply become obsolete in the modern world, and the Sunday shop trading hours is one.

While I accept that the biggest beneficiaries of the changes will be the massive supermarket chains, it will also allow medium-size businesses in town centres to open longer and generate that bit more trade in these lean times, if they want to.

And that is the crux of this matter.

There are campaigners who will fight for the right to keep Sundays sacred, and I understand that.

But pubs are now allowed to open all day, every day.

If we can drink ourselves silly on Sundays, why can’t we shop ’til we drop as well?

Frankly, I think George Osborne is being a bit of a coward by hiding this completely sensible idea behind some pretence that we need shops to open longer while the Olympics are on.

Pure poppycock.

It would be far more honest to say that we think this is a good idea, most people will be happy with it and so we are going to do it.

Campaign group Keep Sunday Special say the limited move is a “cover for creeping deregulation” and church leaders are also thought likely to oppose the plans.

In my opinion, opening shops for longer on Sundays will surely help church leaders get more people through their doors because the congregation will have more time in which to do its shopping.

And, let’s be honest, anything that we can do to boost flagging retail figures has to be a good thing.

Let’s enable people to visit supermarkets, garden centres and DIY stores on the lighter summer evenings. Personally, I don’t think it will make a jot of difference to those figures, but I still think we should make it permanent.

Times have changed and our laws need to change with them.

And so, George, be brave and make it a permanent move.