Ditch Sunday trading laws - Next boss

Sunday may not be special for much longer if Next boss Simon Wolfson gets his way. Wolfson has called on the Government to get rid of Sunday trading restrictions.

The Tory peer claims Next revenues would lift by an extra £50m by axing the current restrictions. But how much popular support would such a change carry? Is Sunday really such a big deal in 2012?

Time up for tradition?

Well, the Labour Party certainly think so. Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls has already said that the move to lift restrictions on Sunday trading for the London Olympics challenges several centuries of British tradition. Several unions are also against the move.

Currently big stores with more than 280 square metres of floor space can't trade for more than six hours between 10am and 6pm on Sundays. Some business leaders who argue for change claim the move would create more jobs. But the move would also have a significant shift on the lives of millions of workers.

The increasing numbers of shops trading on Sunday has, say some, put pressure on family time. Strangely, the Conservative Party referred us to comment from the Treasury (we're waiting to hear back). "Historically we haven't been in favour or against," Morrisons supermarkets told AOL Money.

However, in a later statement, Morrisons confirmed they said that did not favour Sunday trading.

Fence sitting

We approached Marks & Spencer. They said they weren't commenting on the issue but did say they supported the British Retail Consortium's (BRC) position on it, which is currently neutral.

"We're neither in favour or against," said BRC spokesperson Richard Dodd, "because retailers have mixed views on Sunday trading reform. Some of them are in favour and believe that if big shops were allowed to open for longer hours, there is more business to justify the extra cost."

"But others," he went on, "think you would spread the business over more hours but you wouldn't sell in any more. The other aspect is that big stores are restricted but there are no restrictions on smaller stores." Which means that smaller stores might not welcome the big store competition, of course.

Xmas 2012 pressure

John Lewis has previously said, according to the FT, it is not in favour of lifting the restrictions. However in a statement sent to us, they avoided commenting on the issue directly: "As the Official Department Store Provider to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, John Lewis welcomes the relaxation of Sunday trading hours during what will be an exciting summer for retailers and the UK as a whole."

But some big traders, like Next, do clearly want change. Especially as the day before Christmas 2012 - a massive shopping day - is on a Sunday this year. (Don't expect this issue to disappear.)

Sunday trading laws were originally introduced in 1994 and covers shop workers including managers, office staff, cashiers, shelf-fillers and cleaners. You can't be forced to work on Sundays if your contract doesn't state Sunday working is expected. And if you are expected to work on a Sunday, you can legally opt out - but three months' notice is required.

10 biggest companies in the world
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Ditch Sunday trading laws - Next boss

Wal-Mart Stores, or Walmart, is an American retailer that runs chains of discount department and warehouse stores around the world.

The company was founded by Sam Walton in 1962, incorporated on October 31, 1969, and first traded on the New York Stock Exchange in 1972. It is headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas and has around 8,500 stores in 15 countries, under 55 different names.

Royal Dutch Shell, more commonly known as Shell, is a global oil and gas company headquartered in Holland, but with its registered office in London.

With operations in more than 90 countries, it is active in every area of the oil and gas industry, including exploration and production, refining, petrochemicals, power generation and trading.

Exxon Mobil Corporation, or ExxonMobil, is an American oil and gas corporation formed on November 30, 1999, by the merger of Exxon and Mobil. Its headquarters are in Irving, Texas.

With 37 oil refineries in 21 countries, Exxon Mobil Corporation is the largest refiner in the world.

BP is yet another global oil and gas company, this time headquartered in London. It has operations in more than 80 countries, produces about 3.8 million barrels of oil per day and has 22,400 service stations worldwide.

The name BP is derived from the initials of one of the company's former legal names, British Petroleum.

Sinopec Group is one of the major petroleum companies in China, headquartered in Beijing.

Its business includes oil and gas exploration as well as the production and sales of petrochemicals and chemical fibres.

China National Petroleum Corporation is a state-owned fuel-producing corporation and the largest integrated oil and gas company in China. It has its headquarters in Beijing.

CNPC - the parent company of PetroChina - was created in 17 September 1988 when the government decided to disband the Ministry of Petroleum and create a state owned company to handle all Petroleum activities in China.

State Grid Corporation of China is the largest electric power transmission and distribution company in China, once again headquartered in Beijing.

It has subsidiaries in Northern China, Northeastern China, Eastern China, Middle China and Northwestern China.

Toyota Motor Corporation, more commonly known simply as Toyota, is a multinational automaker headquartered in Toyota, Japan.

The company was founded by Kiichiro Toyoda in 1937 as a spinoff from his father's company Toyota Industries. Its brands include Toyota, Lexus and Daihatsu.

Japan Post Holdings is a state-owned Japanese company that deals with mail delivery and financial services.

It is headquartered in Tokyo and was founded on January 23, 2006.

Chevron Corporation is an American energy company headquartered in San Ramon, California.

It is active in more than 180 countries and is engaged in every aspect of the oil, gas, and geothermal energy industries, including exploration and production, and power generation.


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