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Lincoln cautious over extended Sunday opening hours

Lincoln is cautious about extending Sunday opening hours.

Talks are underway with the government to extend Sunday trading hours, after longer hours were permitted over the Olympic period.

A number of big retailers, such as Asda, have been providing the government with customer feedback on potential longer opening hours too.

At present, shops over a certain size are only allowed to trade for six hours on a Sunday by law, but emergency legislation meant the government were able to lift the restriction for two weeks during the Olympics.

The law is in place to protect small family-run businesses from being overshadowed by larger brands such as supermarkets.

Longer opening hours would begin as a temporary measure, with a view to make the changes permanent.

However, the new proposal has been met with opposition, with retailers and Christian and trading groups believing it would affect family time, undermine smaller businesses, and is not a solution for economic regeneration.

Lincoln BIG Chief Executive Matt Corrigan

“Sunday trading has undoubtedly proved popular since it was introduced more than 15 years ago and we see significant numbers of people now shopping on a Sunday across the city centre. There is nothing currently to stop smaller retailers from opening on Sundays so this is mainly an issue for our larger stores who do feel that the current rules are somewhat arbitrary, for example DIY shops are often not open when people need to buy something and it can feel odd to retailers shutting up shop in the middle of a sunny summers afternoon because the government says you must.

“The downside is that it is the larger supermarkets that are likely to benefit most and unrestricted Sunday opening, decreasing the amount of overall spend available on the High St and increasing pressure on other retailers to open to compete whether it is profitable to open longer or not. If the relaxation means more flexibility so that we can offer better customers service on the High Street it is to be welcomed but the risk is that it could hand more market share to out of town superstores.”

Lincoln MP, Karl McCartney

“The case has yet to be made that a permanent extension of Sunday trading would result in significant economic growth. Indeed, I have concerns that such a measure would further impact family life at the weekends and bring about a change in culture, which would see Sunday become another working day, eliminating the current degree of respite available to individuals.

“If the Government sought to make such a permanent change, it would require new legislation and would therefore provide Parliament with the opportunity to debate the issue.”

Lincoln Labour Parliamentary candidate, Lucy Rigby

“This law change was supposedly temporary and if it’s to become permanent (which incidentally breaks all the promises the Government gave to business and Parliament), it should be looked at carefully first. There are significant potential risks — not least to the survival of convenience stores that benefit from the current position and the fact that employees might be unfairly pressured into working longer at the expense of family time.

“This isn’t a clear cut issue — many in Government and some big businesses, like Sainsbury’s, don’t want change. Importantly, the Government haven’t yet shown us any evidence that the temporary change has boosted our economy. George Osborne’s just moving the deck chairs; he’ll need to think a lot bigger if he wants to create real growth in the economy.”