A consumer group is calling for Sunday trading hours to be extended so that people could shop when they wanted to.
The National Consumer Council (NCC) was one of the leading lights in the campaign to end the ban on Sunday shopping in the 1990s. But it says the current arrangements – which allow large stores to open for only six hours on a Sunday – need to be reviewed.
‘Evidence suggests that many millions of people would like to have greater freedom to shop when it suits them,’ says the NCC.
‘This [Sunday trading] restriction has the important objective of protecting workers from being exploited – but it is not at all clear that it is the most efficient way of achieving this aim.’
Red tape around taxis and weddings
The NCC has drawn up a ‘hit list’ of rules and regulations it wants changed as it says they are simply ‘red tape’ for consumers. It includes ending restrictions on the number of licensed taxis allowed to operate in town and city centres.
The government has already pushed councils to scrap controls on taxi numbers but the NCC says a third of local authorities are still maintaining these restrictions.
The consumer body is also calling for changes to the rules surrounding civil weddings. Currently venues must be ‘seemly and dignified’ and ‘regularly available to the public for use for the solemnisation of marriages’, while no food can be eaten within the premises less than an hour before the wedding.
But the NCC says this stops people getting married at home unless they live in a stately home and are happy to allow other people to be married there, too.
Philip Cullum, Deputy Chief Executive of the NCC, said: ‘It’s time to get rid of the red tape that restricts people shopping in bigger shops on Sundays. And there are still too many daft rules like the one telling people when they can and can’t eat in a civil wedding venue. Restrictions like these achieve nothing, beyond limiting consumer choice. They need to go.’
The hit list is published in pamphlet, published online as a Pdf file and called Consumers and Regulation.