Sunday Trading (London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games) Bill - Commons Library Standard Note

Published 02 April 2012 | Standard notes SN06284

Authors: Lorraine Conway

Topic: Consumers

The Sunday Trading (London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games) Bill [HL] was introduced in the House of Lords on 28 March 2012 and is expected to have its Second Reading on 24 April 2012. Due to the tight timescales involved, the Government has stated that it intends to use the fast-track procedure for this Bill.

As currently drafted, the purpose of the Bill is to introduce a temporary suspension of the current rules on Sunday trading for large stores. The period of suspension would be for eight consecutive Sundays during the Olympic and Paralympic Games, beginning on 22 July 2012 (the Sunday before the opening ceremony) and ending on Sunday, 9 September 2012 (the date of the closing ceremony of the Paralympics). The Bill applies only to England and Wales.

Under current legislation, a distinction is made between large and small shops in respect of permissible trading hours. Large shops (over 280 sq m/3,000 sq ft) may open Monday to Saturday without restrictions. On Sundays, opening is restricted to 6 continual hours between the period 10am and 6pm. There are no opening restrictions for small shops (under 280 sq m/3,000 sq ft) on any day of the week.

The Government has said that it wants to ensure that visitors to the UK for the London Games have the best experience possible and a temporary suspension of Sunday trading restrictions would enable visitors to take full advantage of all the UK has to offer, including its shopping attractions. If the Bill is enacted, the Treasury expects to see a net increase in retail sales as well as a boost for employment and growth for the UK.

The Bill has received a mix reception. Some large retailers have welcomed the Bill. However, other bodies have stated their opposition to the Bill, including USDAW (the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers), the Keep Sunday Special Campaign (KSS) and the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).

The purpose of this note is to provide more detailed information about the background to this Bill.

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