Port De Soller Mallorca

Port De Soller Mallorca

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Sunday trading laws to be relaxed, can't we have just one day without shops? - Walletpop UK

Well there it is, the Government are seriously thinking about relaxing the Sunday trading laws as a means to help retailers in these times of economic austerity!

There are a couple of issues I have with this and indeed with the report by Damian Wilson the author of this horrendous piece of news, although he does finish his article by saying that he does not think it will happen, I do hope that he is correct.

Before I get into my stride about why shops should not be allowed to open for any longer than they currently do, can I ask Damian where he lives?  The reason for asking is not to become a stalker, but rather one of curiosity as he tells us in his piece that the supermarkets only open 24 hours at Christmas, Where is this mythical town of tranquillity and peacefulness resting from the pressures of 24 hour shopping? Is it in the UK or is it somewhere discovered and then lost again by Gulliver on his travels, but, that I missed recently when I re-read that marvellous tome?

Give him his due Damian does tell us that the relaxation of the current laws is based on a study that only had 2696 responses, but that is also somewhat disquieting to read as well.  Why is that? I hear you ask.  Well for one thing if the government of the day is seriously considering relaxing Sunday trading laws based on under 3000 responses to a study, why did the government of the day not consider, for example only you understand, pulling our troops out of (or not sending them in the first place) Iraq when there were hundreds of thousands of protesters on the streets concerned about our involvement in this war.   Conversely I also note that E Milliband was equally as horrified at the 'publics' outrage over the damning revelations of Milly Dowler's phone vowing on the tens of thousands of people who were outraged by this, that it should never happen again. Although not an MP at the time Iraq kicked of he was 'special' in terms of endorsements and involvement with the Labour party and I suppose we can infer that with his support for involvement in Libya, that he was/ is supportive of the Iraq war in the face of  public resentment!  Mind you he also did manage, I understand, to radically change the UK energy policy after being threatened by Pete Postlethwaite, so minority and not majority opinion does sometimes count!

Look, you have me going off again, please stop doing that, now where were we, Oh yes I remember, Sunday Trading extensions.  

I don't like Sunday trading. But, I do confess to have gone to the shops on a Sunday, but, normally under duress.  I don't want all shops to close on a Sunday, and my objections are not based on religious beliefs. My objections are a bit more fundamental than that and they are really in the main two fold.

The first reason and it is purely based partly based on what is contained within Damian Wilson's article and what has been said by many people, usually traders and those who stand to gain from the shops being opened for all this extra time, is the contention that it will aid and assist, mainly the smaller retailer, in their endeavours to survive, by increasing their turnover and therefore their profit margins.  Well please do excuse my crassness and reverting to type here, but what a piece of unadulterated bollocks that is, well isn't it?  Smaller retailers are never going to compete on the industrial scale of the large supermarkets,  they have never been able to and never will.  If they could we would not see the empty high streets that have become derelict ghost towns in every town and city the length and breadth of the country.  Oh, sure there are exceptions to the rule, but that is what they are, exceptions, nothing more nothing less.  And unless you are located where one of these exceptions exist there is absolutely no financial reason for you to even attempt to open your doors in competition to the  wagon train of supermarkets that surround you.  It is nonsense to suggest anything else to the contrary.

Also, how can it it aid retailers to open longer on a Sunday, even the larger ones, as a means of increasing their profitability by bringing in more shoppers to spend even more money than they already are or can.  Lets face it there is a financial wilderness upon us.  We open up our browsers each day and read the news [don't do print newspapers unless I am on the train and there is a freebie there] or hear another report telling us that we have even less in our pockets to spend, because the price of fuel, gas , electric, food, has gone up yet again.  And then of course there is the impact of economic loss to industry in the service sector particularly and in local authorities where people who have not been given a pay rise for a number of years, are now being told, ' you can keep your job but we cannot afford your current salary, so what is it to be,? your job on a reduced salary or redundancy? What would you do, what can you do?

And, if you are lucky enough [or some might say, unlucky enough] to keep your job and on a reduced salary, you are still seeing the swingeing tax rises that we still have to pay through PAYE, VAT, etc. etc.

So just where do these people who want to see a total relaxation of the trading laws for Sunday, think that Mr and Mrs Average are going to find the money to spend during these extra opening hours.  I know it isn't always as simple as I make out and that there are some people out there who either are still getting good wages, or there are those who have diligently saved and have money in the bank to allow them to continue to maintain their lifestyle, but surely these are in the minority and can not in themselves justify the sweeping away of the remaining Sunday trading  laws, can they?

The AA website reports that fuel sales have dropped by 1 BILLION litres [how many zero's is that] in the first 3 months of this year. Fuel Sales Fall First quarter petrol and diesel sales drop by one billion litres .  If people cannot afford to put fuel in their vehicles, how can they get to the retail malls to spend the money to justify extending their opening hours, it is nonsense.  And what does the government do, they increase the duty we pay on it!  Crazy, crazy crazy.  It's a bit like me working for a commercial garage in the 80's and a pay rise was announced, as it turned out it worked out to be one shiny penny, no point really.  Now I wasn't, although I could have been but never did on principle,  claim any state benefits, but others I worked with, were and did.  The additional one pence on their wages just tipped them over the limit for benefits and ended up costing them their rent rebates and other allowances, and that is another story......

So, finally, for this part at least, is there a beneficial and economic reason for shops to be allowed to open for longer on a Sunday, I say NO, but what do you say?

My other reason, and for me personally, this is the crux of the argument.  I do know that other people will have similar arguments and jump on MY bandwagon, but this is my own personal reason for not wanting large shops and shopping malls to open for longer and as far as I am concerned I would be quite happy and content if they were closed down on Sunday's all together.

 I have three grown up children and have been married for 35 and a bit years.  My two eldest, daughter  Marie and son Brian work in the Restaurant and Pub industry. They choose to work long unsociable hours for the benefit of their employers and customers.  [Brian is actually the leaseholder of his own little pub and his hours of work is reaping benefits and he is bucking the trend in that area by ever  increasing sales figures]  The Sun Bethnal Green But long and unsocial hours was and is the case in pubs and restaurants long before shops were allowed to open past tea time and at weekends and is steeped, whether rightly or wrongly, in tradition.  In an effort to increase turnover and maximise profits, Marie is now having to get up at 5 AM to get to her restaurant, a Harvester, as that company have now also started for the first time doing breakfasts, so the hours are even more unsocial and long.  All of this while raising  five year old twins.  My third child, Jennifer a mother to three girls eight, five and 4 months, is a part time class assistant at the local school.

Marie's hubby Peter is the manager of the restaurant and I am told that last week for instance, they managed to spend an hour of quality time with each other during the course of the week.  Brian's partner Nick runs the pub with him  Jennifer's partner Steve is an Heavy Goods Vehicle mechanic who has to do night shifts.  Operators of HGV's cannot afford to take them off the road during the day so they have to be serviced at night, makes sense but a complete pain in the ass.

Ishbel, my better half, works in a department store, part time but feels like full time and has to work every Sunday.  Me, well I have always managed, apart from my ten years in the Army to avoid working at weekends except when absolutely unavoidable, so I guess I have been the lucky one in the family in that respect.  But this is where my whole point is made.  Look at the hours and times these guys are working, and I can tell you the wages do not engender a feeling of well being from those employed and in Ishbel's case the weekend working , where she has to go to work when the kids come over and bring the grand kids.  So the scenario at our home on the weekend is that, if Jennifer and Steve are coming over they can't come to early on a Saturday because Steve has been out to work on the night shift on Friday, so they do not arrive until the afternoon, giving grandma a shorter visit than she would like.  Before you know it it is time for the children's bed time and off they go.  Sunday morning, up we get and have breakfast and then grandma has to get herself ready for work and off she goes and the kids are again missing time with grandma and instead have to put up with 'grumps' on his own.  Grandma finishes work at 4 pm, comes home and we all sit down to dinner.  But because the kids are going to school on Monday they can't stay to late, as they have to drive back down to Surrey and get the kids to bed again. It is the same with Marie and the twins.  Because they are so busy through the week they have to set aside time on Saturday for the kids, and this currently involves swimming lessons and so by the time they arrive on Saturday and it has already been a long day they have had to eat before they get here,  we then miss having dinner with them and again at five years of age they can't be kept up to late as they get like me, grumpy, so off they trot to bed and grandma has only seem them for a couple of hours and then the Sunday process starts all over again, with breakfast and grandma rushing off to work.

This is repeated in households all over the country and not just with grandmas and their grand kids, but with mothers and fathers who have to work in the retail industry.  It is all very well saying well, if they work at the weekend, they get a day off during the week, yes but husbands and partners are probably working on those days off or have other days off and children are at school, so the the family unit is not benefiting from that working arrangement, it can't.  There is a fragmentation of family life that continues to be eroded and while I cannot blame these conditions entirely for the breakdown of a social normalcy that we would all love to live, it does play a major role in it's continued slide into oblivion.

So, that is my gripe about Sunday trading, it breaks down what is left of the family unit and does not allow for the quality of time that that unit requires and needs to be self sustaining and self fulfilling.  Sunday trading is like a grenade that has exploded into society's across the word and fragmented the closeness of families every where.  I know that some will say that not all families are like that and want to spend time together and looking back at my days in the 60's as a kid when there was no Sunday trading other than the family run corner shops.  It wasn't even as rosy as the picture I am trying to depict, but, the point is, it has got worse and will continue to get worse and the only thing I can suggest to those of you who find yourself in the situation where you have not the financial means to say, 'stick your job', is to make sure that the time you do spend together are good times, do not fight and squabble over little things, enjoy each others company, talk together, read together, go for walk together even watch a bit of telly or a movie together and above all else enjoy each others company, you never know, you might just get to like your family and want to spend time with them.

PS: Wikipedia's article on Sunday Shopping around the globe makes for interesting reading:



Well it has arrived, albeit, one hopes, as a temporary measure, for shops with a floor space of more than 280 sq mtrs being allowed to open for additional hours on a Sunday for the Olympics! But, according to the union, Usdaw:
The government failed to make a coherent business case for the suspension and there is no evidence that it will boost the economy or tourism.
And, it started yesterday, 6 days ahead of the Olympics with Lakeside in Thurrock opening until 7 PM.  Now you have read my piece above, so you know exactly where I stand on this and my mind still hasn't been changed by this latest erosion to our lives.

It's not as if those people working in these shops are going to get any material benefit from this change. All the shops are doing is re-arranging the rota's and shift patterns so that the staff are working the same hours as last week but are just being inconvenienced to start later and finish later destroying what little quality time that families were already hard pressed to have together.

Let's not also forget that this is happening on a Sunday when public transport is already running a reduced service, hourly instead of the usual 20 or 30 minutes between services and look at my better half as an example of this.  She normally starts work on a Sunday at 11 AM and if she were to get the bus to work she would have to get the bus just after 10 AM. The journey takes between 15 and twenty minutes so she is there, at the work place a good thirty to 40 minutes before she has to be.  With the changes she starts work at 1 PM and again this means she would need to get a bus at noon.

Same on the reverse journey; she finishes at 5 pm normally but has to wait around if getting the bus for 25 minutes and the same at 7 PM.  The shopping centres change their times but the bus operating companies don't!

Lakeside has been chosen as one of the 'park and ride' centres for the Olympics but really, if you have driven for a couple of hours to get there and then you have to get on a bus to get you to an Olympic venue and then you have spent a day watching the sporting event of your choice and been forced to gorge on hamburgers, then to queue for a bus and get back to your car; are you really going to be in the mood or even want to spend another couple of hours in a shopping mall, just how nuts would someone be to want to do that.......

And as for the rest of us we are going to get snarled up in the surrounding environs on the roads with all the additional traffic jams and pollution giving us the benefit of all those wonderful negatives, with absolutely no positives.  It's not as if the local community is going to reap any benefits from this, or is my view already to coloured to see it?

And as for the first 'late opening' well, Ishbel arrived home at 7.30 PM and announced that for the whole day her department, men's suits took the grand total of £300 and that from 5PM (usual closing time) she had a total of two customers - browsing.

So thanks, coalition government, and Lakeside for ruining another day  

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