More choice for us means more work for them

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At first glance, changes to Sunday trading laws expected in today’s Budget speech seem like good news.

With individual councils set to be allowed to decide Sunday trading hours, it means that timings can be tailored to particular areas.

For instance, an urban community might want longer hours, while a smaller, rural one would be happy with the present catch-all system of convenience stores up to 3,000sq ft opening late every day while supermarkets shut their doors at 4pm on Sundays.

Decision-making will be devolved from central government, enabling councils who understand their own areas to do what they believe is best for the consumer.

That’s a good thing. But while we all stand to get greater choice in when and where we shop, what about the people who work in retail? For them, longer hours for the big supermarket chains will mean more staff required to be on duty.

That will take them away from their loved ones for longer on the day of the week that was traditionally supposed to be a day of rest where one would spend time with the family.

Of course, that changed the moment Sunday trading came in. For all of us, it lost its special nature.

But now people working in supermarkets face spending even more time there on Sundays – and under-pressure small traders will have to work harder still to survive increased competition.

Albert Road Traders’ Association chairwoman Jenni Catlow says: ‘It won’t give the employees quality of life and it will just take them away from their families.’

So if you do end up being able to go to a supermarket on a Sunday evening, spare a thought for the person serving you.

Because greater choice for you has meant less time at home for them.