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Businesses call for change in Sunday opening hours

Newry businesses are up in arms at what they see as ancient and redundant laws regarding the Sunday trading laws in Northern Ireland. The issue was raised as it was announced that LIDL Newry is to increase its opening hours for the summer season leaving many local traders to ask why the concession can’t be made year round. They reason that the concession which operates for 18 months of the year due to Newry being considered a tourist hub, should be rolled out for the  

entire year as they see the current laws as being outdated and restrictive to business. With many local businesses struggling to emerge from the effects of the recession they proposed a permanent relaxation of the current laws as this would enable their businesses to be fully operational over seven days and would promote growth within the local economy. Speaking to the Democrat a local businessman said: “With the current laws as they are we can operate from 1pm – 6pm on a Sunday. With the way people conduct their business on a Sunday this essentially leaves us at a distinct disadvantage to the conglomerates with petrol stations as they are free to open all day. With customer footfall this effectively reduces our trading to six full days and we feel normal opening hours on a Sunday would greatly help us. We will notice an increase in revenue and our staff will benefit from a longer trading day. If this could be ratified in law for the whole year it would benefit everyone whilst still respecting people’s right to have Sunday as a rest day.” The concensus amongst the group was that the emergence of online shopping and its capacity to do business 24 hours of the day, greater flexibility is needed to give high street the opportunity to compete in the modern climate.

Newry Democrat

22nd July 2014