Sundays were 'the most miserable day of the week' because shops were shut, says minister

Anna Soubry defends George Osborne's plans for round-the-clock Sunday shopping, set to be announced in tomorrow's Budget

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Sundays used to be “the most miserable day of the week” because shops were shut, a government minister has said as she defended plans for round-the-clock Sunday shopping.

Anna Soubry, the small business minister, recalled memories of boredom as she took on criticism that relaxing Sunday trading laws would undermine the ‘special’ feeling of the day.

George Osborne will announce the biggest shake-up of Sunday trading laws for 20 years in his emergency budget tomorrow and predict it will lead to a significant economic boost.

Speaking to the Today programme presenter John Humphreys, the 58-year-old Ms Soubry said: "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."

 

The law was relaxed for eight weekends during the summer of the 2012 London Olympics, leading to a large rise in sales.

Mr Osborne will announce that decisions over trading hours are to be devolved to councils and elected mayors, enabling them to allow shops to open longer if they think it will benefit the local economy.

However John Hannett, secretary general of the shopworkers’ union Usdaw, said he would trade unions will campaign against it, claiming there will “not be any economic benefits”.

He said the move was “very disappointing” and will put pressure on existing employees.

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