Jackie: The London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics is proving a great success and many people are enjoying watching the Games. But many people are also enjoying shopping in London. However, in the business world there's a little bit of controversy about that.
Richard: So for this week's podcastsinenglish.com business podcast, we're talking about the Sunday trading laws.
Jackie: So something's changed, Richard, during the Games. What has the government done?
Richard: Well, in the UK there are many restrictions on which shops can open on a Sunday and these are known as the Sunday Trading Laws but these have been relaxed for the Olympics so more people can go out shopping on a Sunday.
Jackie: Yes, it may seem strange to some listeners but buying and selling on a Sunday had been illegal with the exception of some small shops under the Shops Act of 1950.
Richard: Yes, but then in the 1990s there were lots more larger supermarkets opening um... all over the place and they lobbied the Government to change the law which resulted in the Sunday Trading Act of 1994 allowing larger stores to open for a maximum of six hours on a Sunday.
Jackie: Okay, what do you mean by a... a larger store then?
Richard: It was defined as a retail floor area over 280 square metres.
Jackie: And the opening hours are anywhere between 10 and 6pm, aren't they?
Richard: Yes. So some shops actually open from 11 until 5. Er... others um... especially the supermarkets, 10 till 4 is very popular and in central London shops, for instance in Oxford Street, they tend to open between 12 and 6.
Jackie: But small shops they can open all day, any... any time they want, they have no restrictions.
Richard: Very traditional: on a Sunday morning you can get your Sunday papers from the corner shop as you can now.
Jackie: So the government has decided during the Olympics and the Paralympics, that it would boost business if more shops were open and open for longer. What they didn't want is for tourists to go to some events on a Sunday and then want to go shopping and then to find a sign saying closed for business on a... on a shop front. They say it will boost business: the economy, sales, employment will all benefit.
Richard: But that's not the whole story, there are many people against it as well. You mentioned business: some economists say that people won't spend more money on a Sunday. They'll just spend some money on a Sunday and then they won't spend it during the week.
Jackie: So in Britain there is some controversy about having these shops open on a Sunday. Um... there's a campaign called “Keep Sunday Special” and they're concerned that Sunday trading would erode family life. It could affect local communities and, just as importantly, it will affect local economies as well, the... the corner shop.
Richard: The local corner shop, yes.
Jackie: So what people are concerned about is that after the Olympic Games, the larger shops won't have to go back to their restrictive opening hours but will continue to be able to stay open for longer. Now this is a big fuss in the UK, but what about you the listeners?
Richard: What's the situation in your country? Can the shops open and close when they like? Can you go shopping when you like or are there certain days when you can't? And do you think it's important to have a law to stop people or let people shop on a certain day?
Jackie: So write in with your views, we'd love to hear from you.