Market and Economics

Osborne's Sunday trading proposals put markets above family and community


Back in 2012 when it was announced that Sunday trading laws would be relaxed during the London Olympics, voices from the Church of England along with various others raised the concern that this was the first step to them being permanently scrapped. It was particularly understandable given that George Osborne refused to rule this out as an option.

As it turned out, any boost to retailers as a result of the change was inconclusive: overall retail sales fell during the Olympics. So, afterwards, everything went back to how it was, and all those who were opposed to permanent changes breathed a sigh of relief. All went quiet on the subject, and that has remained the case even as recently as April of this year when a letter on behalf of David Cameron was written to the Keep Sunday Special campaign, which gave an assurance that the government had no plans to relax the Sunday trading laws.

Keep Sunday Special Prime Minister Letter

As we now know, George Osborne has other plans, and those who were making predictions back in 2012 have been proved right. He may be attempting to deflect accusations of government backtracking by promising to devolve the issue to local councils and mayors, but Osborne has made his opinion on the matter quite apparent: “Even two decades on from the introduction of the Sunday Trading Act, it is clear that that there is still a growing appetite for shopping on a Sunday,” he explained.

Well, that’s alright then. But let’s imagine that over the last couple of decades there might just have been a growing appetite amongst teenagers to view porn. Does that mean the government should be encouraging that, too?

But let’s lay down the morality of such a change for a moment. Surely, no one can argue with the research that the Chancellor cited, which forecasts that extending Sunday trading by two hours in London alone would generate 3000 jobs and more than £200 million a year in extra income. It would, of course, bring in more money, because we are all so addicted to shopping that we’d be using those extra 120 minutes to spend even more than we do now. Cosmopolitan is working itself into a frenzy at the thought of extended shopping sprees, so it must undoubtedly be a good thing.

And just in case anyone is still foolish enough to be harking back to a time when Sundays were seen to be special, Anna Soubry, Minister for Small Business, has kindly thrown those idyllic thoughts out of the window. On Radio 4’s Today Programme yesterday, she reminded listeners of a certain age that “We are of that generation where Sunday, truthfully, was the most miserable day of the week. The only thing to look forward to was ‘Sing Something Simple’ on the radio. Goodness me, if that didn’t sum up a miserable Sunday.”

Wow. Things really were unbelievably bad before we could all shop on a Sunday.

Now, compared to the £12 billion of welfare cuts that will give journalists enough material to keep them going for the next fortnight, a few extra hours to go shopping on a Sunday might seem trivial. But it actually says a great deal about what we consider important as a society. The flaw with George Osborne’s approach is that it all revolves around money and perceived financial benefits. How much more will it generate for the national economy? Regarding Sunday as a day to be set apart and treated with a greater level of respect in the Chancellor’s eyes just doesn’t make financial sense. Any pandering to Judaeo-Christian values cannot be considered if it hinders the opportunity to improve our GDP.

But you can’t get away from the fact that we are a country with a deep Christian heritage, and many people, even if they like the convenience of being able to pop to the shops, still see Sunday as special, irrespective of any religious beliefs they may have. This is the case for many retailers, too. Asda and Morrisons may be pressing for the Government to change the law, but Tesco, Sainsbury’s and John Lewis support the current restrictions. And last August, when ICM asked if it was important to provide legal protection for people who don’t want to work on Sundays, should Sunday opening hours be extended, 73 per cent of respondents said ‘yes’, with only 8 per cent disagreeing.

Anna Soubry might not enjoy Sundays, but perhaps she just needs to try harder. There are plenty of people who make the most of Sunday, using it as a sabbath to have some guaranteed family time, do sports, go for walks, potter about in the garden, or – if they want to be really radical – go to church. Not being able to shop all day forces us to use the time in other, hopefully more beneficial ways. Life is busy enough as it is. Having a few hours a week set aside from consumerism is surely no bad thing.

Arguments about how the Sabbath should be spent are nothing new, of course. God revealed the concept in the second verse of the second chapter of the first book of the Bible, and He then reinforced its importance by sticking it in the Ten Commandments. Centuries later, the religious authorities had become so obsessed with it that rather than seeing it as a blessing which ensures we get enough rest, they stripped it of its human and spiritual dimension, turning it into an oppressive form of legalism. When Jesus came along, He went about railing against these restrictions. During one verbal altercation with some Pharisees, He came out with the famous saying: ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath‘ (Mk 2:27). The Sabbath was created for our benefit; not to subjugate us and hold us to ransom.

In a similar way, Jesus could just easily have said that the markets are made for man, not man for the markets. George Osborne is offering us a vision of Sunday where money governs the actions of man, and there is no place or time to escape from boosting the economy. If we cannot afford ourselves such a luxury, then we will have sold ourselves as slaves to a belief that our humanity is more about the generation of wealth and consumption of material goods than it is about relationships, freedom and well-being. Is this really the vacuous, soulless life we want to create for ourselves?

  • Gordon Tough

    The big question Gideon needs to answer is – If this is being proposed on the basis of economic growth, will he insist on office workers being forced to work Sundays as well?

    • Martin


      And this is the critical point is it not, People have to work on Sundays to enable others to shop on Sundays. It doesn’t mean more is bought, just that the spending is spread over seven days instead of six.

      But, of course, since mothers are forced out to work by economic necessity, they no longer have the ability to shop during the week. So shops are underused during the week in order to use them on Sundays.

      Perhaps shops should close during the week and open only at weekends. Think of the saving in staffing and other costs.

      Our leaders are daft enough to go for it.

  • sarky

    To be honest, even if retailers are given the option to open for longer on sundays, I don’t think they will. Even under the existing rules most of the shops where I live don’t open at all, because the footfall just isn’t there. There may be some supermarkets that open longer, but again most of these have the smaller ‘local’ stores that open 7 – 11 anyway.

  • len

    The things this secular society worships are money power and the liberation of his baser instincts. And it is these very things which will be his downfall.
    Sunday trading?, well what’s special about Sunday anyway?

    • sarky


    • Dominic Stockford

      As Sarky shows below, those whose eyes are closed will never know what is so significant about the Lord’s Day.

      • sarky

        Only significant to you!

        • Dominic Stockford

          My point made beautifully, thank you.

  • Dominic Stockford

    More lies and more hypocrisy and all in the worship of their god, mammon.

  • Orwell Ian

    When the nation has exhausted itself from an orgy of 7 day shopping some future government will have to restore the benefit of a designated day on which to recover. As Sunday imposed such misery they might delight us all with time off for Friday prayers instead.

  • saintmark

    As long as MP’s also have to work on Sunday I see no problem, (and if they choose not to then they won’t be considered for cabinet positions). Not so appealing now is it?

    • Hah …. good point. And while we’re at it, let’s stop them having the whole of Summer off too.

      • Pubcrawler

        On the contrary: the less time Parliament sits, the less they’ll be tempted to meddle for the sake of it, and the less damage they can do.

      • avi barzel

        No! No! That’ll cause them to quit and look other work…well, work, period… and where would we be without their expert governance?

  • Don Benson

    Let us be clear, Sunday shopping adds scarcely anything to a nation’s overall wealth because shopping is on the consumption side of the wealth equation not the production side. At best it might minimally effect what the nation could earn from tourism, but that would have to be offset by the extra cost to retailers of keeping their shops open for longer.

    No, whether he realises it or not, Osborne is driven not by economics but by atheism; everything about the man speaks of the state (through political means) seizing for itself the role of Creator. Thus Osborne undermines the family: he was a key promoter of gay “marriage”, he refuses to support families in his taxation policies, and now he aims to subvert Sunday as a day of rest. It’s a pretty impoverished view of what makes for the wellbeing of people.

    While he is absolutely right to seek to balance the books he needs to heed the words of another book which tells us that the love of money is the root of all evil. A society which ignores that truth will never flourish.

  • Albert

    It’s the usual thing. Make promises in order to make a change, then when the change has been made, break the promises.

    And is this change such a good thing?

    Surely, no one can argue with the research that the Chancellor cited, which forecasts that extending Sunday trading by two hours in London alone would generate 3000 jobs and more than £200 million a year in extra income.

    I thought the problem was that the British consumer already had too much debt. So where is that £200 million coming from? It’s not all being created, some at least is simply being borrowed against tomorrow.

    • Ivan M

      Studies have shown that most studies are useless – Katie Shadie. I can make up study showing that lost leisure, the attendant trauma, the systematic wear and tear of 24/7 work and its effect on systems add up to a loss of many billions.

  • Malcolm Smith

    If you open your shop on Sunday, you will attract more customers – as long as your competitors don’t do the same. Then it is back to getting the same receipts, but having to pay overtime.
    Apart from that, instead of asking whether you want to be able to shop on Sundays, you should ask whether you want to work on Sundays, because once the shops are open, somebody will be required to be present if they want to keep their jobs. Some of these might like to attend church on Sunday.
    But that’s not all. Even the irreligious might want to have a day which they know they can share with their families. Their children are going to off school on Sundays. Often enough, there are two members of the family working. Hard luck if only one is free on the Sunday. Harder still if both spouses are rostered on Sunday.
    There are some jobs which have to be performed on Sunday from sheer necessity. However, in most cases, Sunday trading is just a matter of convenience. The trouble is, one person’s convenience is another’s inconvenience.

    • James60498 .

      ” Harder still if both parents are rostered onSunday”.

      Then the Government will provide free Child Care on Sundays so that every day there are OFSTED approved liberal education camps for children to attend.

  • Dreadnaught

    It would be interesting to know exactly who actually wants this and who has been doing the lobbying. The like of Oxford Street would obviously benefit, but I can’t see shops in many other cities increasing their turnover let alone find it reasonable to pressurise staff into losing part of their work-free weekend. Seeing as 24/7 on-line shopping is increasingly attractive, is it really that desirable to lose the tradition that punctuates the British week?
    I wonder if there any Christians out there who would object to this activity as being equally ‘irreligious’ as physically going out to shop?

    • Albert

      You make an important point. In the end, the people who run the shops have to pay staff to stay open. But I for one don’t suddenly have more money because George lets them stay open. It seems to me therefore, that I would spread my shopping time, and therefore my money more thinly (if I shopped on Sundays, which I don’t). Which means the shopkeeper has to pay more staff for the same income. The only way beyond that, is that I get into debt to spend more…

      • Re-mortgaging the house or raiding their pension pots to spend more is what the government is planning on for it’s economic recovery which will only be short lived.

    • sarky

      Apart from supermarkets, these changes would only result in shops opening for another couple of hours and like I said below can’t see many taking it up. The tradition that punctuates the week has been gone for a long time. Cinemas, sports centres, restaurants are all open along with many other attractions. I have to work (some) Sundays and to be honest I don’t mind. It’s nice having time off in the week when everyone else is at work.

      • CliveM

        In Scotland it already happens and in the big towns and cities a lot of supermarkets etc have taken it up. It’s not universal, but is growing.

      • Dreadnaught

        Care for what you wish for Sarks. In my working years Sundays worked were a double time because traditionally giving up Church time had to be compensated. If Sunday becomes just another working day – goodbye double-bubble! : -)

        • sarky

          I still get a nice little percentage and time off in lieu. Happy days 🙂

  • carl jacobs

    Isn’t this a little like the German Army defending the last unoccupied block of Berlin in April 1945?

    • This seems to be your response to many things lately Carl. You certainly said it about SSM. What things do you think are worth defending?

      • avi barzel

        I think what Carl means, Rebel, is that you cannot defend the Sabbath in society which has gone secular. You are left with grasping for straws, like Gillan’s practical arguments against commercialism and Phil’s example of the German laws which make Sunday into a quiet day, a kleine mini-Urlaub, as it were. Both are easily defeated in a secular setting. Why Sunday specifically, and why restrict some activities but not others? Even an argument from tradition has a short shelf life after a few generations of secularism.

        • I believe you can defend the Sabbath in a secular society. Just like I believe you can defend marriage in a secular society; and like I believe you can defend against euthanasia and abortion in secular society.

          I’m no naive optimist, but I don’t think we should wave the white flag in trying to defend God’s common grace to all men just yet. Both marriage & the Sabbath are creation ordinances. If we give up defending them or speaking up for them then our conviction can’t run very deep.

          • avi barzel

            You can defend a common day of rest for arguably salubrious effects on individuals and the commons, but you’ll have hard time insisting on a Saturday or Sunday without bringing up religion or tradition…which also rests on religion. Mind you, I opine as a Canadian and it’s not clear to me what special mandate, if any, the C of E has on this matter. Our secular friends here are right; they are on the majority, they have the upper hand and looks like they’ll be steering the ship…for now, at least. Forcing it on a secular majority, and in a patchwork manner, even if possible, would be counterproductive, unfair and will only cause resentment and greater disrespect for religion. Best to defend and promote the Sabbath by observing it, even if it causes us inconvenience or hardship.

      • carl jacobs

        Rebel Saint

        You certainly said it about SSM.

        When did I say that about SSM? If I was made Emperor, I would abolish SSM, and retro-actively void the legal relationship. I don;t know what you are talking about. What I have said (because it is a fact) is that Christianity has been driven to the margins, and we have accept that reality. We don’t control the terms of moral discourse anymore. The people who do control the terms of moral discourse hate what we believe and will act on that hatred. You can pretend that is not true. You will only be disappointed.

        As for this topic, my comment had nothing to do with whether this particular idea is worth defending. I was commenting on the nature of the fight. To defend a Sunday closing is tactically futile and strategically worthless. Look at the culture around you. It was not an accident that I chose Berlin in 1945 as my metaphor. Your culture is a bombed-out ruin. You can’t stop the butchery of abortion so instead you defend Sunday closing laws? To what purpose? Do you think you are achieving some high moral purpose by preventing Sarky from shopping on Sunday? All you are doing is making him comply with an external rule. The rule means nothing to him. There is no spiritual value in making him comply. I suspect this has far more – far more – to do with maintaining some semblance of Christian cultural presence than anything else.

        • You said it here (though to be fair, here you were specifically saying we shouldn’t fight for the right not to be forced to participate in the celebration of SSM).

          To what purpose do I defend Sunday trading laws? With the same purpose as I defend those laws which limit abortion. They may not be perfect, but if they prevent some innocent lives from being destroyed then they are better than nothing. The same goes for the Sunday trading laws. They may not be a Sabbatarian ideal, but they are better than none whatsoever. And just as when defending the sanctity of marriage or of unborn children’s lives, I also believe that the Sabbath is divine ordinance for the benefit of ALL mankind, not just the redeemed.

          • carl jacobs

            You are talking about the “gay cake” thing. If someone had been able to offer a credible argument in refutation of my position, then maybe I would have changed my mind. But no such argument was offered. My position is a consistent position, and until someone can demonstrate its inconsistency, I will continue to maintain it.

            I certainly am not going to question your resolve or willingness or good conscience. Just so you understand that you are conducting a symbolic fight with no hope of success in the remnant of a culture that presently commits far worse offenses. You cannot win. And even If you could win, you will achieve nothing of eternal value. Unbelievers are not moved closer to God by being forced to obey laws that they despise.

          • We agree – you are consistent. I was merely pointing out that your consistent argument seems sadly to be, “the tides coming in, there’s no point trying to stop it”.

            You may well be right (in fact, I’m absolutely sure you are). But I think the sanctity of marriage, of life and of the sabbath are all worth putting up a robust defence of. And this is not simply because they “maintain some semblance of Christian cultural presence” but because they are part of God’s creation order and of benefit to ALL.

            I happen to agree with Bishop Michael Nazir has said – that the Church in the West is now changing from primarily being salt in society (working ‘with the grain’ of society) to being light, a city on a hill, which draws people by it’s distinctiveness. But I think it is wrong to simply retreat. Who knows, by the grace of God, what divine interventions may come our way. (I always cite the Education Act which somehow, miraculously insists that children have an act of daily worship!).

    • Dreadnaught

      Or the South clinging on to Stars n Bars.

      • IanCad

        Don’t go there!

      • carl jacobs

        There is a concerted effort to make the American Civil War into something that it manifestly was not. It manifestly was not a crusade to destroy slavery. The war was about Union. Not two northern soldiers in 100 enlisted to fight slavery. Quite frankly, the attitude of a typical Union soldier towards black people was not much different from that of a Confederate soldier. If in April 1861 Lincoln had called for 75,000 volunteers to destroy slavery, you would have received the answer to the question “What if they called a war, and nobody came.”

        But now we are supposed to consider the Confederate soldier the American equivalent of the SS. Two hundred thousand men died under the Confederate Battle flag, and they died with honor. I for one will not urinate on their war memorials for the sake of an historical lie. I will not require men to disown the memory of their ancestors for the sake of parochial modern-day politics. I will not declare the Confederate soldier evil so that men today can puff themselves up and call themselves good.

        For the record. I had one ancestor in the war. He fought throughout the war with an artillery unit from the state of Illinois – a northern state.

        • …. it was a war waged over competing economic systems, or so Jack was taught at school.

          • carl jacobs

            The War was fought over Union. The war was caused by slavery. The economic differences were derivative of slavery.

        • Dreadnaught

          I am well aware of many of the underlying differences not commonly understood that lead to the War Between the States. The fact that the Union was taking a bit of a battering prompted Lincoln to play the anti-slavery card was as much to undermine the economy of the South as outlaw slavery.
          However, my comment to you was a bit tongue in cheek rather than a direct provocative barb to derail the thread.

    • Phil R

      Some things are worth defending Carl.

      Sometimes things seem to be hopeless but still if you refuse to give up you still win.

      Most commentators put the number of Templar between 12 and 14. THe maximum number was 20.

      THe numbers of Byzantines up to 55000

  • “George Osborne is offering us a vision of Sunday where money governs the actions of man, and there is no place or time to escape from boosting the economy. If we cannot afford ourselves such a luxury, then we will have sold ourselves as slaves to a belief that our humanity is more about the generation of wealth and consumption of material goods than it is about relationships, freedom and well-being.”


    There is no rest for the wicked, says the LORD. As ever, we choose our own punishment: Sunday, as a Sabbath set aside for worship, rest and good deeds was something that came to fill our country with horror. So, instead, we will become slaves of the so-called “freedom” that we chose in its place.

  • David

    The Conservative Party contains fewer an fewer committed Christians I have found. Just try defending a traditional Christian stance on their website, and you will find yourself under attack, with few defenders. This was one of the many reasons I decided to depart for other political pastures.

  • Shadrach Fire

    Len wrote earlier that Sunday is not special anymore. I am more concerned about the ever increasing sports activities on a Sunday morning. Even the kids of Church going parents are causing the parents to give way and take them to the sport activity so they don’t ‘lose out’. Sunday school has no appeal to this group and the parents won’t fight it.

    When will all night 24/7 shopping be introduced to meet the needs of the shift workers?

    • CliveM

      Sunday sports was certainly a concern for us.

      Fortunately our son has turned out to be unsporty!

    • Dreadnaught

      You are not really of this world are you Sad rack – Already is 24hr at Asda.

    • sarky

      Many supermarkets already have it and as someone who works shifts I am grateful.

    • sarky

      Hmmm sports with mates or Sunday school?

      I can’t believe they choose sport.

    • DanJ0

      My local Tesco Extra opens all night but with just the self-service tills open and a single person monitoring them and with a security guard at the door. The normal overnight shelf stackers are there in the rest of the store. We’re allowed to weave our way through the wheeled crates in the aisles as best we can.

  • Retired Paul

    There’s an interesting article on the Citizens Advice website

    The headline is:-
    “If you find it difficult to balance work and home – for example, because you have caring responsibilties – you may want to ask your employer for flexible working. If you ask your employer for flexible working and they refuse, it may be a breach of the flexible working regulations. It could also be unlawful discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.”

    “If you’re a woman with childcare responsibilities and your request for flexible working is refused, this could be indirect sex discrimination.”

    Interesting to reflect how the big supermarkets will respond to challenges of discrimination in their quest to get more money…..

  • IanCad

    I do not think it is the business of Government to dictate to businesses as to their hours of operation.
    We have the perfect liberty not to frequent them on any particular day that conflicts with our beliefs.

    • Phil R

      But those that work there will not have that luxury for long.

      • IanCad

        There is, I believe, the notion of “Reasonable Accommodation” lurking somewhere within our employment laws.

        See Retired Paul below.

        • Pubcrawler

          That’s not what Celestina Mba found a couple of years ago:

          • IanCad

            Thanks for the link Pubcrawler.

            A sorry tale indeed!

            When I referred to “Reasonable Accommodation” I was only considering the employer.

            Mrs. Mba was certainly being reasonable as this snippet shows:

            “She had told the tribunal she was prepared to work night shifts and on Saturdays, or to have accepted less pay, to be able to observe Sunday as a day of rest.”

            An absolutely outrageous decision. Next stop ECHR?!

  • Phil R

    It is interesting that the British work 7 days a week and the Germans for 6.

    Sunday in Germany is a day of rest and with even mowing the lawn (noise) liable to a huge fine (up to 100,000Euros)

    Do the Germans have a lower standard of living? No (I would say it is far higher)

    Do they have a better quality of life? Yes

    Is the reason for the for their success due to an enforced day of rest? I think it helps a lot

    You can sit in your garden on a Sunday or after 7pm in the Evening and it is quiet. Sunday is a day for hobbies, village and family activities. Remember them?

    • IanCad

      The Germans are famous for doing what they are told.

      • Phil R

        A functioning Justice System with teeth, is also a factor.

        • IanCad

          And a latent ferocity that will emerge again some day.

          • Phil R

            I think cutting our Forces makes our chance of being attacked much more likely.

            But this time it is unlikely to be from the Germans.

          • IanCad

            You are probably right, but wars creep up unawares.

  • avi barzel

    What you call an “oppressive form of legalism,” Gillan, is precisely what has kept the Jewish sabbath from being whittled away by leniencies, misinterpretations and convenient rationalizations. So, here you are now, in a position where you can’t come up with a better public argument than that the Sabbath is a kind of a family day and a time for leisurely flaking off, a day vaguely good for everyone, and that it shouldn’t be sullied by commercialism, a definition which you seem to limit in this case to shopping in big, soul-less stores.

    Had liberal Christianity (and libersl Judaism, to be fair) unabashedly framed it as a foundational commandment, a unique day of and for holiness and retained at least some of the seemingly oppressive legalisms, such as the prohibition of handling money…and even discussing business and anything relating to commerce…you wouldn’t have this issue on your hands. Yes, the Sabbath was made for mankind, that was never disputed by the Pharisees actually, but it has always been the detailed, restrictive and protective legal “fencing” that kept the Sabbath as the Sabbath not just for Jews, but for serious Christian communities until not too long ago.

    • Well said, Avi. It is such commitment to the Torah and to living your faith as a community, that has preserved your people.

      • avi barzel


        And here I was sure you are going to pile into me, Jack. I’ve lost my touch; can’t even provoke you properly anymore, so I best say thank you!

        • Been experimenting with the smileys?. Does you wife know about this gross waste of time? Clever, though.

          Avi, you know Jack has always admired Jewish culture and how following the Torah binds you together – as does the longing for Jerusalem. Surely, God gave these laws and aspirations to your people for these very reasons?

          The big question is: now there is a Jewish State and Jerusalem has been de factor regained, will Judaism become secularised?

          • avi barzel

            Actually, I lifted the silly thing from an online magazine. The smile and eyes are a single character and I suspect the fellow cheated and used a foreign font, I’m guessing Kanji, which is readable in html. I copied and saved it just for you…so, don’t say I never think about you.

            I thought that you would take on my straying into theological chauvinism regarding my vigorous defense of Pharisaic legalism at which our Gillan took a gentle swipe at. Fun and games between competitive friends; all part of the immutable differences between our faiths. As for your big question, it’s funny, because the hiloni, the secular Israelis, worry about the opposite; they see the growth of the haredi, the ultra-Orthodox and are freaking about being overrun and having to house, feed and defend a majority they think will never work and expects to be exempt from army service. But in this telegenic squabble between the artsy, Leftist elites of central Tel Aviv and the loony fringies in Mea She’arim, they entirely miss the cenyre and growth of my sector, the Religious Zionists. It’s a demographic thing and my side will win because it deals with modernity, works, engages in the world, joins the army and is involved in Israeli national life while being fully Orthodox, whereas the Haredi are insular, depend on rich donors and welfare, avoid secular studies and keep their young and even married men studying in the yeshivot all day. This was a good strategy to keep young men from loitering around the ghettos or becoming assimilated when few occupations were open to Jews, and in the post WW II economic boom of big donors, but now the system is crashing because it’s socially and financially unsustainable. As you can see, the Left in Israel is rapidly losing ground on all fronts and in part, this is due to the growth of Orthodox Zionism and the attraction of the National Religious parties.

          • ¯_(ツ)_/¯
            Jack thinks it rather cool ….

          • avi barzel

            It’s yours. I thought it goes rather well with your avatar. But enough of this, people will talk.

  • They literally want us to shop till we drop! Why not open 24/7/365 and be done with it! Only the economy wont improve that much and then what? There’s more to life than shopping and things.

    • sarky

      Don’t go then!!! If people don’t go it won’t be economically viable and the status quo will be maintained.

      • But people will go because society is conditioning and driving them to always have the latest model/gadget/fashion etc.. I think even in a secular society there should be one day a week where shops are closed for respite. Human beings need change of tempo and atmosphere to combat stress, depression and anxiety.

        • sarky

          But shops are already open between ten and four, a couple of extra hours isn’t going to cause the fall of Western civilization.

          • Dominic Stockford

            No, but it will cause more misery.

            And why do you always say it is to do with the ‘fall of civilisation’, or ‘the end of the world’ of the ‘sky falling in’ when you critique our comments? We don’t say that, you are inventing what we say, exaggerating it greatly, and then accusing us of that exaggeration.

          • avi barzel

            Yet, Sarky has a consistent position. As a secular person living in a society that has been secularized by the majority, he doesn’t want to be restrained by poor arguments designed to obscure the fact that some people feel vaguely sentimental about Sundays, but lack the religious conviction, principled commitment and the fortitude to defend the religious reasons, much less to make a stand and personal sacrifices for their Sabbath day. Family and community day, stress reducer, a break from commercialism, workers’ rights…all weak tosh, easily fixed and countered by examples all over the world. No wonder we religious types are becoming comical in the eyes of the secular world.

          • sarky

            What he said 😉

          • Well you just need look at the statistics for the amount of people suffering stress, depression and anxiety which have been on the increase since shops opened longer hours and on Sundays. I’m not saying shops should go back to 9 to 5.30 mon to sat but we should have one day commerce free to recharge.

        • IanCad

          People can choose to have a day off – as they so please. Let’s not be giving Caesar a say in the matter.

          • Yes and they invariably spend it shopping!

          • IanCad

            But that is their prerogative.

          • Yes, but recreational shopping is vacuous and shallow it does not satisfy the deeper human spiritual needs as well as the need for a change of pace. People become aggressive and stressed out if they can’t have the latest toys on offer and that’s not conducive to maintaining good health.

          • IanCad

            So True! The way of the world is toward frivolity and always has been. That said, we cannot appeal to the power of the state to rectify this sorry condition.
            We have our marching orders – Spread The Gospel!

  • preacher

    This proposed legislation creates many interesting points.
    From the perspective of unbelievers, Sunday can be a day of many activities that fall into the category of rest, relaxation & family time.
    Before I was a Christian, when Sunday opening was so limited, Sundays were boring to the point of tears & I didn’t see why the restrictions were applied to all & sundry. I must confess that it felt most unfair.
    If non believers feel oppressed by our wishes, it will produce a negative response & an adverse reaction to the gospel. as the old saying goes ‘ you can take a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink ! ‘. surely better to make the horse thirsty & it will seek the water ?.

    I feel that much of the blame is due to the spiritual power vacuum that currently exists in many of our fellowships. Much of the time the Great Commission is neglected & any evangelistic activity is laid at the door of ministers, many of who are not gifted in the area of outreach.
    Despite the need for spiritual truth & reality in many lives, we are
    often viewed as an archaic religious system that has separated itself from society & pulled up the drawbridge but insist on others obeying our religious principles . The only ‘evangelism’ seen is toddler groups or entertainment that is void of any mention of the gospel & it’s power & relevance to change lives & slake the spiritual thirst of the nation.

    It will need a team effort, a a great deal of prayer & commitment for us all. But if we think of the sacrifice of the Lord for us, is that to much to ask ? & i believe many will be amazed at the way their lives & walk with God will change from the mundane to a newness of relationship & joy with the living Lord.

    Is Sunday opening hours important ? – Yes to many believers of a conservative type faith, & a law must be passed to protect the right of those that wish to attend Church on Sunday without threat or hindrance to their livelihoods.
    Personally I feel that the Christian faith is 24, 7, 365 – God is there on Monday morning through to Sunday, night in full power without let or hindrance & longs for us to see this and live it.

    Apologies if the antiseptic stings, but I feel that we have to face the situation & our part in it’s resolution before it’s too late to accomplish anything.

    • sarky

      Think you have hit the nail on the head.

    • dannybhoy

      Very well said Preacher.

  • Inspector General

    Although supermarkets give a wonderful service, they do kill off the smaller fry and they do so with the same concern over it you would expect from these soulless giants, to wit, none. As a keen supporter of enterprise, be it even the humble corner shop, the Inspector is most annoyed at this planned change in the law.

    A typical supermarket of at least medium size may now include the likes of a bakery, fishmonger display, delicatessen, pharmacy, optician in some cases, hardware areas, clothing areas, record store and the like, Cafe. All interests that are becoming increasing rare or locally extinct on what’s left of the high street. For example, there is just one freelance fishmonger left in Gloucester. One of the few areas they don’t cover is ‘Charity Shop’ and ‘Convenience Store’. But one is in no doubt that if they could make a few pennies covering those, they damn well would. Even then they don’t even need to make a profit to go into a new area, as their home delivery services have shown. All running at a loss, one understands…

  • Inspector General

    Can’t remember when Sunday hours were opened up. It was a long time ago. It was the last day left when all of the family might be together, at home. No one needs to shop on a Sunday. We used to manage it in six days, even single people who work full time.

    However, the tactics used by the giants are well remembered by this man. They defied the law, no less, and opened up anyway, in order to ‘push’ their case. But shoplifters who found themselves facing a seven day week were not so fortunate. Even though the supermarkets had ignored the law on trading hours, they certainly expected the police to enforce it when it came to theft. Magna Carta says no one is above the law, but the Inspector does not recall any supermarket board member sharing the dock with aforementioned thieves…

  • DanJ0

    I’d like the freedom to shop whenever I like, and the freedom for shops to open whenever they like during the day. Let the market decide.

  • The real issue is that children are home from school at weekends.
    Surely there should be one day in the week when parents and their children are at home together?
    And we wonder why children are self-harming in huge numbers or suffering with various other mental or spiritual problems. It is because the Conservative government is fundamentally anti-family.

    • sarky

      Think there might be a bit more to it than Sunday trading don’t you?

      • I’m sure there is, but keeping families apart by not having a set day when Mum, Dad and children can be together certainly plays its part, and a large one IMO.

        • sarky

          Both myself and my wife worked weekends (I still do) and it had no effect on my three kids. They don’t self harm and are well balanced and thriving, they do well at school and are HAPPY!!!
          Like I said, I think there may be a bit more to it.

  • “We are of that generation where Sunday, truthfully, was the most miserable day of the week. The only thing to look forward to was ‘Sing Something Simple’ on the radio. Goodness me, if that didn’t sum up a miserable Sunday.”

    Well, this more accurately sums up Anna Soubry’s rather barren religious upbringing.

    Happy Jack has very fond memories of Sundays when his parents, who both worked during the week, were at home with all the children. His dad was a Bus Conductor, after leaving the Army, so he had to work every weekend in four unless he could get cover which he invariably did. We attended Mass together and he recalls the wonderful smell of roast meat and potatoes in the oven and longing for Sunday dinner which was always extra special. The afternoon’s would be peaceful, spent listening to radio programmes like The Clitheroe Kid and the Goon Show. Then there would be snoozing and games of Monopoly, story telling from mum’s days in Ireland and dad’s in the East End and strolls by the Thames Estuary in Essex..

    Sundays were a special time for families and for people – spiritually and emotionally.

    • carl jacobs

      Roast meat? I thought the English boiled everything.

      To the substance. There are professions that require someone working every day of the week. Doctors, and nurses, and police officers come to mind. There will be no objection to this assertion. Now presumably, the families in question could find ways to work around this fact, and still achieve the result that you describe. Indeed, you have described your own father doing exactly that. If the desire to achieve the outcome exists, then the outcome can be achieved. So what then is the negative correlation between Sunday closing laws and the outcome you describe?

      • It becomes more and more difficult to maintain Sunday as the Lord’s Day for Christians.
        My father was able to get cover because the men he worked with understood he was a strong Catholic and they respected this. Plus, it meant they would get the overtime and days off in lieu. It was voluntary, not in one’s contract, and based on the goodwill of the men agreeing to work. It isn’t anymore. Even overtime payments and days off in lieu for Sunday working have gone. Nowadays, these shifts are contractual and have to be worked.

        • carl jacobs

          Nevertheless. It could still be done. The point is that you don’t need to compel people on Sunday in order to achieve this outcome. The problem is not the lack of a free Sunday. The problem is the lack of will to make time for family.

          There is a sense in some the argumentation on this thread of “If we provide a fee Sunday, then it will be used in the manner we describe.” That isn’t necessarily true. It’s not even likely. The will must precede the availability of time. Therefore it is not a good argument for your case.

          • The problem is the lack of will to make time for God, Carl, and this is making it more and more difficult for Christians to have the freedom to do so.
            Look at the Sunday Premier League timetable.

          • carl jacobs

            So how then is compelling people to observe a rule going to fix the lack of will? The answer is “It won’t.” You are attempting to fix an internal problem by manipulating externals

          • Jack isn’t attempting anything, Carl. He’s merely lamenting the sorry spiritual state of this nation.

          • avi barzel

            For lamenting you need to make a Sad Jack avatar.

      • sarky

        Crikey!!! I agree!!! (Apart from the boiling everything bit)

  • Linus

    More Christian hypocrisy and navel-gazing, I see.

    Just two posts ago, this blog was railing against the wicked Greeks and their rejection of market forces. How dare they refuse to pay back their loans on their creditors’ terms? The market can never be gainsaid. Its word is law.

    But no, it’s only law if it doesn’t inconvenience Christians, apparently. How dare the market insist on Sunday opening? How dare it deprive Christians of their sabbath? Christians can never be gainsaid. Their word is law.

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but the world doesn’t revolve around you and your religion any more. You’re perfectly free to practice whatever faith you like, but the rest of us are not obliged to make special exceptions for you. Your conscience is your own to act upon as you see fit, but under no circumstances is anyone else obliged to conform to it.

    Just as Jews are free not to work on their sabbath, but cannot oblige anyone else to observe it, Christians are free not to work on Sundays. If your employment requires Sunday working, find a job that does not. It’s as simple as that.

  • Busy Mum

    Some Local Education Authorities advise teachers not to arrange extra-curricular activities, residential trips etc over a Friday because doing so renders the activity inaccessible to their Muslim pupils. I successfully used exactly the same idea in our culturally Christian region to ask that a semi-compulsory three day residential trip for my teenage daughter be held from a Thurs-Sat rather than a Fri-Sun, making it quite clear that she would not be able to attend if it was over the Lord’s Day
    A society that does not defend Sunday as it’s holy day will very quickly find that Friday is the sabbath by default….

    • IanCad

      A society that does hold Sunday as its holy day will not be in harmony with the teachings of scripture.

      • Busy Mum

        There is a stark choice ahead – and I am sure a holy Friday will be enforced much more rigidly than the Christian Sabbath ever was….

        Sunday, the first day of the week, the Christian rest, is the fulfillment of Saturday, the seventh day of the week, the Jewish sabbath.

        • IanCad

          Not at all. There was one Sabbath made for all mankind. We do not have permission to change it.
          You have absolutely no biblical basis on which to support your assertion.

          • Busy Mum

            The commandment is to remember the sabbath day, not the seventh day. As the Christian ‘rests’ in the knowledge that Jesus rose again and is alive, the day of rest for Christians should be tied to the resurrection rather than to the typical religious rituals of the Jewish dispensation.

            And don’t forget that the Jubilee – the setting free – took place AFTER seven lots of seven years, not on the last year of the 49.

          • IanCad

            The Sabbath Day is the Seventh Day. No matter how the Word of God is twisted and parsed – mainly by Protestants – it does not alter that fact. It is the central part of The Law of God. We tread on dangerous ground when we try to justify the day of the sun as a replacement for that eternal law.
            Ezekiel 8:16

          • Busy Mum

            Irrelevant – Sunday is the day of the sun and Saturday is the day of saturn – both of which terms could be construed as dangerous….if you are going to choose your holy day according to the pagan naming, you will have to go without altogether!

          • IanCad

            Both days represent Paganism. We as Christians should be mindful that we are talking about the Seventh Day and the First Day. You cannot wiggle out of Ezekiel by using the Pagan/Roman naming of days as an argument against the Holy Sabbath..

          • Busy Mum

            The sun-worship in Ezekiel is one of the many abominations referred to, but keeping Sunday as our Sabbath does not mean we are worshipping the sun. Yes, we are talking about seventh days and first days of the week, but Leviticus 23 for instance shows that, in a similar way to the Jubilee, often the eight day (or first day of the following week) was even more holy than the preceding sabbath.
            Retaining the seventh day as the sabbath is akin to retaining a bit of the Jewish ceremonial law, ALL of which was fulfilled when Christ died…

          • IanCad

            But, Sunday was the Pagan day of worship.
            It was far easier to get converts if they could keep the same day they were used to. Especially as it would distance them from the hated – then as now – Jews.
            The Seventh Day Sabbath is not part of the ceremonial law. It is central to the Decalogue. It was never changed. The Law of God is the same; yesterday, today and tomorrow.
            Again, there is no biblical authority to change the day. The acceptance of Sunday is an example of the traditions of men being put before the Word of God.

          • Busy Mum

            I would say it was far easier to worship God in Christian fashion whilst all around you were indulging in pagan worship, than on another day when your worship would be more conspicuous and liable to get you killed by said pagans!

          • IanCad

            You are disregarding the Edict of Constantine (321) which mandated that all, except necessary agricultural hands, should worship on the “Venerable Day of the Sun”
            Other attacks on The Sabbath came along later. The Council of Laodicea decreed that Christians should not “Judaize” by worshipping on God’s appointed day.

          • avi barzel

            An unusual position for a Christian, if I may say. Are you a Seventh Day Adventist? While this may not matter to you, Orthodox Judaism doesn’t require non-Jews to observe the Sabbath. Prospwctive converts who do observe, are still required to commit at least one minor violation, such as switching on or off a light fixture. You do have a point about the centrality and universality of the Sabbath, but I don’t know the rationale for exempting non-Jews and will look into it.

          • IanCad

            I was raised in the CofE. My wife was an SDA. Following the instinct of all single women to ensnare and entangle – at all costs – a mate. She did not tell me of her leanings until after the capture. I had little difficulty in embracing her beliefs; although with a little less eschatological rigidity.
            Within the denomination there are degrees of rigor in Sabbath observance. Not to the extent of switching a light on or off, but between the extremes of utilizing the Preparation Day and eating out we fall close to the former. This blog is a temptation for me and I sneak a peek now and then. Watching the TV is not a problem as we have never had one.
            Regardless, it is a blessed day for us.

          • avi barzel

            Yeah, you’ve been had. Bait and switch. Welcome to the club; me, I used to be as secular as they come. Never saw it coming, eventhough to everyone including the corner grocer, it was as plain as day that my life would start a new chapter. The Almighty makes us as dumb as a sack of turnips during courting and I’m told…by the party in question…that it’s for my own good. And she’ll hurt me if I balk.

            Oddly enough, I’ve only met Black Jamaican SDAs in Toronto…probably because they stand out more in the kosher stores than the Whites…not just by colour, but by the politeness and their hopeless attempt to find a queue during the-Sabbath melee!

          • IanCad

            And they’re called the weaker sex??!!
            More brains, more balls, and always ready to shoot first.

          • Busy Mum

            Though maybe Constantine was simply capitalising on what was already an established Christian worship pattern…
            And fairly appropriate anyway to replace sun-worhip with Son-worship,the Light of the World; and of course, the first day of creation was ‘Let there be light….’

          • Pubcrawler

            Correct. Sunday/First/Lord’s Day worship seems to have been the established practice even by the end of the Apostolic Age.

          • IanCad

            Then explain why Ambrose – Bishop of Milan – celebrated for his comment on Sunday worship: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” Was observing the Seventh Day Sabbath in the 4th century?

          • IanCad

            Sunday worship in the first century was confined mainly to Rome and Alexandria. Both long term sun worshipping cities.
            You are going to have to take up the Sabbath change with God. For myself, I would tremble at corrupting and contorting the Word of God.
            “Let there be light–“ Is not to be conflated with the Sabbath.

          • Ivan M

            Your understanding of the significance of Sunday is a very limited one. After the Resurrection all the appearances of Jesus occurred on a Sunday excepting perhaps one or two occasions as on The Road to Emmaus. Jesus made it a point to appear on Sundays and that too to an assembly. From this derives the significance of Sunday for Christian worship. The old order with Saturday as the day of rest has fulfilled its purpose. A new beginning has been inaugurated. That Pagans had some inkling of this merely shows that Revelation was not confined to the Jews.

          • IanCad

            But Ivan, nothing of what you have written warrants the changing of the Sabbath Day. What was established at Creation and restated at Sinai cannot be changed by the will of man. The First Day is a working day. Christ rested on the Seventh.
            We have to follow Him.

          • Ivan M

            Sinai and its promise has been fulfilled in Christ. As a compromise Saturday can be retained as the day of rest. But Sunday is the day for Christian worship. When Jesus appeared to the Apostles show the wounds on His hands and feet it was a Sunday. One Thomas was sceptical of this. Jesus could have cleared Thomas’ doubts on anyday but He chose to appear again only on the following Sunday not in private but with the faithful assembled. Since He is God Himself His actions are of eternal significance, not in need of elaboration. This is something I heard at Mass some years ago. By myself I am not able to come up with such cogent reasoning. Enjoy your holidays sir.

          • IanCad

            Thanks Ivan. Got cut short.
            Darn rain!

        • Linus

          My iPhone tells me the first day of the week is Monday and I see no reason to disbelieve it.

          • Busy Mum

            Thankyou for making it quite clear that you do have a god after all – I hope your faith in your iPhone sees you safely through this life and into the next!

          • Linus

            My iPhone is not so much a god as an oracle. Useful in this life because it generally provides the right answer to whatever question I ask it. Useless in the next life, because there is no next life…

          • Busy Mum

            Did you ask your iPhone whether or not there is a next life?!

          • Linus

            Yes, I did. It directed me to a Wikipedia article on the subject of religious extremism. Quite appropriate, I thought. A dodgy source for a dodgy subject.

            Of course my iPhone is just using a search algorithm designed by a group of software engineers. But I have noticed that whenever the subject is controversial, it tends to steer me towards mildly skeptical viewpoints. In this it reflects my own way of seeing the world, which is perhaps unsurprising considering I dabbled in software design in my youth.

            Depending on your viewpoint, this is either an example of great minds thinking alike, or the blind leading the blind. I know which of the two I prefer, and I’m reasonably sure I can guess your choice with some degree of accuracy. That’s what blind faith does: if nothing else, it makes you very predictable.

            But in any case, as an iPhone is merely a tool for rapid access to useful information, I shall continue to consult it whenever the need arises.

            I wonder, back in the pre-digital dark ages, did you accuse those who consulted their Encyclopédie Universalis (or the British equivalent, one assumes there was one) of idol worship? Are all reference works anathema to you, or do you reserve your ire solely for Apple products?

            One wonders if the spectacles I need to consult the teeny tiny text on my iPhone screen would also fall into the category of works of the Devil, being as they allow me to actually read the information I search for.

            And what remedy do you propose to move online temptation out of my reach? Should I cast my iPhone into the depths of the Seine? If the wind is blowing in the right direction, I could heave it off the edge of the terrace and if it doesn’t land in the water, then it will probably smash to pieces on the cobbles and take out a couple of tourists as collateral damage, which must be considered as an additional advantage. But then I could just go and buy a new iPhone, couldn’t I?

            Perhaps more radical action is called for. Should I pluck out my eyeballs and cast them overboard? Imagine that landing in your café crème as you sit gawping at Votre-Dame-de-Paris (the poor woman has nothing to do with me, hence the unorthodox choice of pronoun). And blinded forever, never again would I be able to consult my little electronic idol. Although there’s probably a voice app, so I suppose I’ll have to ram a knitting needle through my eardrums too. And I know that USB braille peripherals exist, so I’ll have to lop off my hands too … there won’t be much of me left by the time I’m finished, will there? But as a latter day Helen Keller unable to be tempted by access to any kind of illicit knowledge, my entrance into heaven would be assured. Worth the effort, no?


            I think I’ll keep my hands, and my eardrums, and my eyes, and my iPhone too. It makes much more sense to me to make use of what I have in the here and now rather than hoping for transfiguration in an unknown and unknowable future. You hope for heaven if you want to. I don’t believe there is any such hope, so I’ll concentrate on living rather than dying. It just seems to be the more sensible option.

    • Dreadnaught

      So if you have a serious accident on a Sunday – don’t call 999?

      • avi barzel

        I can’t speak for Busy Mum, but I imagine that as in strict Jewish Sabbath observance, genuine emergies–which extracurricular school activities certainly are not–are excepted.

        • Busy Mum

          Thankyou – yes, it is all about avoiding unnecessary work and pleasures. Giving a day to God – he didn’t ask for much did He, just one day out of seven, and still people begrudge it!

      • Busy Mum

        Where I live, it’s actually quicker for us to use friends for transport to hospital – so 999 is a last resort anyway.

        Rather a silly thing to say to someone whose son is a carer who regularly ‘works’ on Sundays….

  • Busy Mum

    “I hold the Sabbath to be the most valuable blessing. It is the cornerstone of civilization. It [Sunday opening of Museums, 1882] is a great change, and those who suppose that it could be limited to museums will find they are mistaken.” Disraeli

    “The religious observance of Sunday is a main prop of the religious character of the country. From a moral, social and physical point of view the observance of Sunday is a duty of absolute consequence.” Gladstone

    “In short, is ……the future to be characterized by freedom or by servitude, strength or weakness? The answer must be clear and unequivocal if we are to avoid the pitfalls toward which we are now heading with such certainty. In many respects it is not to be found in any dogma of political philosophy but in those immutable precepts which underlie the Ten Commandments.” General MacArthur

    • Linus

      That’s the way to solve all of society’s ills! Victorian solutions for contemporary problems!

      The great men of yesterday are the blinkered bigots of today. We are all products of, and must live in, our own time. What Gladstone and Disraeli achieved in the 19th century, they could never do today. The particular talents and opportunities that ensured their rise to prominence and power in that era could not be repeated in ours.

      We have to find our own solutions to the unique problems we face in the here and now. Slavishly following what worked for our ancestors will not guarantee success now. Conditions are so different, and so are we.

  • IrishNeanderthal

    I remember thinking, after Margaret Thatcher’s fall, “she tried to serve God and Mammon” — with reference to Sunday trading.

    Dunno if I’m right, though. One only gets a superficial view, sometimes.

  • Douglas McLellan

    Why are retailers and retail staff the only sector to get special Sunday laws? I suspect this debate has little to do with the poor little shop workers but everything to do with those who desire control of how people live seeking to maintain a privilege that has little to do with 21st Century Britain. If you think a Sunday is religiously special then you can keep it that way. For those of us who do not believe, we would like you out of our lives.

    • carl jacobs

      For those of us who do not believe, we would like you out of our lives.

      And how far do you wish to remove us from your life?

      • Douglas McLellan

        To a position that allows you to act as you wish in terms of your beliefs but then allows us to act in way that suits us. Neither side privileged and both sides equal.

        • Ivan M

          Been there done that. See the Ashers and their cakeshop or the bullshit about homosexuals wanting children. What your kind has indicated is that you would prefer that we be confined to the woodwork to be summoned like servants for decorative purpose. But where our interests clash with yours we are to defer to your greater rights to throwing up a tantrum or defecating in public.

          • Douglas McLellan

            Oh so much hate. Lets break some of that down.

            The Asher Case is important as it is merely an extension of saying no blacks or irish. Offering a non-Christian service and expecting the customers to be Christian doesnt work. That said, there really does need to be a challenge if a non-homosexual cake shop would not print, say, 1 Timothy 1:8-10. That would be a comparison and needs to be tested.

            Homosexuals wanting children is not bullshit. Your hate is really quite weird.

            I do not want to summon anyone. I want people to be happy to live their lives according to their beliefs. I would never foist same sex marriage on a church that did not want it. But no church should have the right to dictate life choices to non-believers.

            There should be no greater rights of one group over another. I can accept the existence, beliefs and life choices of Christians and other religious believers. When those choices extend to controlling access to equality for non-believers (or worse) then I don’t think they should have that right.

            I think you will find that throughout history it is the believers that have shat upon the non-believers. Asking not to be used as a toilet for the religious is not demand a right over the religious, merely being equal.

        • carl jacobs

          What then becomes the presuppositional basis of law?

          • Douglas McLellan


  • CliveM

    Just in case anyone is still reading this post, it is interesting to note that on of Greece’s bailout conditions is that it must allow Sunday trading.

    Make of that what you will!

    I wonder if the rules will need to be as liberal as Germany’s! Snort.