Thursday, February 11, 2016

Is Sunday no longer a day of rest?

By Plymouth Herald | Posted: February 11, 2016

ASK people what they think of the modern day Sunday and, if they are of a certain age, they might look a bit wistful and talk about how much they miss the change of pace that the day of rest used to signify.

But visit any high street, Drake Circus or an out-of-town store on a Sunday and you will see aisles packed with people. Sunday has becoming one of the busiest shopping days of the week and however much folk like to hark back to what can seem like a better, gentler age, it is clear most relish the chance to do their shopping on a Sunday when, for the most part, they are spared the pressures of work.

So further relaxation of the Sunday trading laws, due to be introduced very soon, are unlikely to signal any kind of angry backlash by the majority. Devout Christians aside, the average man or woman in the street has only a vague feeling that Sunday should be 'special.'

And it generally doesn't take long for those same individuals with a wistful look in their eye to also recall that Sunday could in day's gone by be the dreariest day of the week, with nothing open and little to do.

Yet still some restrictions remain and it is those that the Enterprise Bill, which went through its committee stage in the House of Commons yesterday won't impose longer Sunday opening hours on every community, but it will let councils decide if they want to relax the current regulations.

Like much of modern life, individuals are now free to decide if they want to opt in or opt out. No one is compelled to shop on a Sunday and there are plenty of other, non-commercial things that families can do with their day of rest – including going to church – if they want to.

Strict Sunday trading laws belong to a different era and their gradual relaxation has, for the most part, been a positive move.

The fact that the changes now coming in are essentially in the hands of local politicians is a good thing. It puts control back to where it belongs – with the community affected and local people, including retailers large and small.

There are measures in place to protect employees and customers can vote with their feet. If you still want a lazy shopping-free Sunday, have one. But that doesn't mean everyone else has to have one too.


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