Extended Sunday shopping could be permanent - with poll
BUSINESS experts in Derby say they expect the longer opening hours offered to shops during the Olympic Games to be extended beyond the summer to let traders compete with online retailers.
Supermarkets, along with many of the main stores in the city, are staying open until at least 8pm, after rules on Sunday opening were suspended during the Olympics and Paralympics.
The Government made the move to help boost trade during the Games, when it is estimated more than one million people will visit the UK.
The extension was agreed as an eight-week trial, though business leaders in Derby have said they expect to see the laws changed for good.
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John Forkin, director of Marketing Derby, said he thought it was too early to say whether the opening hours had given a boost to traders.
He said: "Like many other people, I suppose, I have been at home watching the Olympics rather than thinking about shopping.
"The challenge as I see it is that online retailers are effectively open 24-seven. Shops are open in the daytime, during the week and on Saturdays when many people are themselves at work.
"So where do people shop when they get home? The internet.
"I think there is a good chance these measures could be made permanent because it is a way for shops to rival online shopping."
When the measures were introduced, Liberal Democrat business minister Norman Lamb said: "I want to make it clear that this is a temporary measure and not a test case for a permanent relaxation of the rules in the future."
But in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said he was "willing to look and see what the difference in trading patterns were".
"I'm always keen that we respect people's religious beliefs. But I think we should kind of look long and hard at the results," he said.
Westfield shopping centre, in Derby, is opening 9am to 6pm on Sundays throughout the period, though a spokesman for the centre said it was too early to say what impact the extension had had on trade.
Shoppers were divided on whether longer hours was a good move.
Glenda Bennett, 55, lives in Derby city centre. She works in a store within Westfield and is not in favour of shops staying open later. "As a worker I don't think it would be good because you already have to juggle family life."
Wendy Wang, 36, of Derby disagreed. She said: "I think it is good. I work as a sales manager and so, for me and my family, it helps being able to do the shopping on Sunday afternoons.
George Cowcher, chief executive of the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce, said: "This eight-week period will also serve as a useful trial to provide evidence as to whether the relaxation of Sunday trading rules on a permanent basis would provide a boost to the economy in the long term."
POLL: What do you think? Have your say on our poll, above right.