Operators reluctant to commit to extended Sunday opening hours

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Possible plans to make Olympic trading hours permanent met with lukewarm response

Network operators are reluctant to continue with extended Sunday trading hours, despite a potential rule change.

For seven weeks, ending September 9, Sunday trading hours for stores with more than 280 square metres of shop floor could be extended beyond the standard six hours.

The move was designed to allow businesses to capitalise on any potential boost in trade generated by the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic games.

Government ministers have suggested the move could become permanent, after a spokesperson for the Prime Minister confirmed in August the idea was being reviewed.

However, high Street retailers Mobile News spoke to, including Carphone Warehouse, Vodafone and O2, were reluctant to come out in support of any changes to the existing legislation.

Carphone Warehouse said it was happy with the current opening times, while O2 said that although the extended hours across five of its stores had been a success, with a boost in footfall and trade, it was not prepared to say whether it would look to extend its trading hours beyond the Olympic and Paralympic  events should the laws change.

Vodafone, meanwhile, said it would need to see how Sunday trading worked beyond the Olympic period before it could comment.

Carphone Warehouse head of business operations Gillian Stewart said: “Carphone Warehouse is happy with its current opening hours. Naturally we will always consider reviewing trading hours and making temporary changes to fit in with customers’ needs in light of local or national events, as we did for the Olympic Games, but we do not plan to make any significant changes at this stage.”

A Vodafone spokesperson added: “Over the last few weeks we extended opening hours in some stores close to Games venues to support customers in those areas. We will continue to closely monitor any future amendments to Sunday trading laws and make a decision on our retail trading hours at the appropriate time.”

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