In past times, the good times, all shops used to be closed on a Sunday. Then came a period, an iffy period, where ‘some’ shops opened on a Sunday often ignoring the law. Then came the current age, a frightful age, where virtually all shops open on a Sunday.
This shame came about because the greedy large retailers lobbied our even greedier parliamentarians to relax the laws of the land which were designed to guard Sunday as a day of worship and rest, and also protect the rights of the workers. Despite the speeches, the arguments, the protests of the rightful and righteousness, the errant MPs voted in the new law in 1994, although the previous attempt in 1983 had been repulsed. It was said that it was in the best interests of the population, who could then shop till their hearts content 7 days a week, and for many years now in some stores 24 hours a day (Monday to Saturday of course). It was vigorously disputed by the proponents of the change that the workers would be harmed, and indeed it was even claimed that the workers would be protected and would not have to work on Sundays, would not need to be coerced because many staff wanted to work that day as it was financially worthwhile as the pay was double. It was also most wrongly asserted that prices would come down and that liberalisation also would boost wide-ranging employment. Those of us who were not MPs, or Supermarket owners, or Retail dragons knew it was all lies all lies – but we didn’t get a say.
To my knowledge shop workers were got rid of if they objected to Sunday working, for most others contracts were changed to force staff to work Sundays, payment for Sunday working dropped back from ‘double time’ to ‘standard’ low pay time, an occasional Sunday became a compulsory every Sunday. No compelling there then.
Some time ago I was in Brussels on holiday on a Sunday. One of the locals told me that Sunday opening was not allowed so it was a fantastic day for all folks because families were foot loose and fancy free. Many people visited relatives or went out and about enjoying their city. It was true; the streets were crowded and full of hustle and bustle, all with smiling and relaxed men, women, and children, happy and mingling with tourists like me.
Sunday in even a small town in this Country is quite different. The streets are crowded but not with people walking around enjoying themselves but with cars – on their way to the shops or parked. The people are sullen and stressed, families with kids are trying to stop them crying but they are tired, hungry and bored. Enter any supermarket and fear the worst – there must be a war about to start, as the trolleys are full to the brim (with buy one get one free offers – food which will end up being thrown away). The staff are fed up, tired, weary, and oppressed – closing time is a distant mirage.
It ought to be appreciated that people only have a certain amount of money to spend – longer opening of stores does not increase that sum of money or the will to spend it. Also, if some shops open then their competitors have to open as well – it is a self perpetuating and progressive action and the big boys make all the bucks at the expense of the little guy.
One has to understand the desperate need for the shops to be open on a Sunday; there are only 6 days x 24hrs = 144hrs to shop Monday to Saturday! Opening hours on Sunday are of course restricted by law, but don’t worry the big boys (who have most to gain from Sunday and extended opening) simply ignore that if they want to; they play tricks like opening early supposedly so shoppers can ‘browse’. One of the justifications the scoundrels used to force a change in the law was to disgracefully flout the existing one that stopped them opening on a Sunday; and boasted about that saying the law wasn’t enforced so ought to be changed. Our trustworthy MPs didn’t demand that the law was adhered to and raise fines to make disobeying it unprofitable, no they agreed to the coercion to change it. Some countries still have the courage and self will to continue to ban Sunday shopping, but the gigantic profits the big powerful supermarkets and other big stores make here will prove too corruptively persuasive to our own politicians.
Just because you shop on a Sunday yourself doesn’t mean you agree with it, or support it, or couldn’t have a better life without it!
[This is one of a number of Posts that comment on the effect of significant changes brought about by Political Parties]
Why not see all of them?:
Creation of a Welfare State 
Bus Deregulation 
Destruction of the Railway system 
Sunday Opening Shame