Shops fear Sunday hours law change

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BIG retailers’ longer Sunday opening hours for the Olympics haven’t changed shoppers’ habits in South Holland – so far.

But smaller shops which have always been able to open until later on Sundays – their one big advantage – fear that if the relaxation of Sunday trading laws becomes permanent, shoppers will get the hang of longer supermarket Sundays and the impact on them will be huge.

Here Morrisons and Sainsbury’s in Spalding have ignored the Olympic challenge and stuck to closing at 4pm, while Tesco at Holbeach, Marks and Spencer Food in Spalding and the Long Sutton Co-operative have all taken it up – in Tesco’s case opening as late as 9pm, while the other two close at 6pm.

The temporary relaxation is due to end on September 9 but there have been calls for it to continue.

Baytree Nurseries Garden Centre has been opening for an extra hour on Sundays, until 5pm, and boss Reinhard Biehler said: “We’ve found people go home at 4pm because it’s what they’re used to. We’ve found it hard to persuade them to stay longer in this short time. It takes longer to change people’s habits.”

Pinchbeck General Store owner Hari Boyall said: “Our nearest supermarket Morrisons hasn’t opened longer but if the law’s changed permanently they all will.

“We close at 10pm every night of the week and rely on that time on Sundays to make up for what supermarkets take away from us on other days.

“If the law is changed shoppers will get used to it after time and it will make a huge impact on us. Smaller community shops will suffer and I’m signing a petition against it.”