Sunday Trading and Other News


Sunday trading

The Government has recently run a public consultation on its proposals for further deregulation of Sunday shop trading hours in England and Wales, involving devolution to local authorities of decisions to extend hours for large stores beyond the six to which they are currently limited. The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has been in the vanguard of opposing the changes and has commissioned several pieces of research in support of its position. These are conveniently gathered together, with its own response to the consultation, at:

A poll by Populus for ACS, undertaken online among 1,864 adults in England and Wales on 2-3 September 2015, revealed that a majority (58%) of the public still thinks that Sunday is different from the rest of the week, 61% because it is a shared time with family and friends, and 58% because it is a day of relaxation. Two-thirds (67%) supported the current legislation permitting large stores to open up to six hours on Sundays while 23% opposed it, presumably because they thought it was either too strict or too liberal. Three-fifths agreed that the existing laws provide sufficient opportunities to shop on Sundays (with just 12% dissenting) and a similar proportion felt that, if the laws were relaxed, shop staff would be forced to work longer and their family life would suffer. At the same time, 25% agreed that the present legislation is not convenient for people like themselves and a plurality of 42% that it constrains customers’ choice when they can go shopping. Sunday trading is one of those topics where the outcome of surveys can be radically different dependent upon the question-wording and context. 

An online survey by Research Insight for ACS of 70 local authority chief executives in England and Wales between 6 August and 4 September 2015 found that 64% were likely to support deregulation in some form in their own local authority, typically in an out-of-town location. However, 64% were concerned that having different Sunday trading regulations within their local authority would cause confusion for consumers and 69% that it would displace trade from some zones to others.  

A report from Oxford Economics for ACS on the Economic Impact of Deregulating Sunday Trading challenged the Government’s assumption that further liberalization of Sunday trading would boost local and regional economies. Oxford Economics, by contrast, forecasts that extending Sunday opening hours by devolution of powers to local authorities is likely to result in displacement of spending, from small stores to large ones, triggering 8,800 job losses in the former, which would not be fully compensated for by job gains in the latter. The report is informed by modelling the impact of the 1994 deregulation of Sunday trading hours and of the temporary liberalization permitted for the 2012 London Olympic Games.  

Meanwhile, the Union of Shop, Distributive, and Allied Workers (USDAW), the UK’s fourth largest trade union, issued a press release on 22 September 2015 in response to the recent Government consultation. USDAW reported that its survey of over 10,000 shopworkers had revealed that 91% of retail staff in large stores are opposed to longer opening hours on Sunday, primarily because of the potential detrimental effect on their family life. The press release is available at:

Extra-terrestrial life

Majorities of adults in Britain (52%), Germany (56%), and the United States (54%) believe in the existence of extra-terrestrial intelligent life. This is according to a YouGov poll published on 24 September 2015, for which 1,751 Britons were interviewed online on 13-14 September. In Britain belief in such life was highest among men (61%) and under-25s and residents of Scotland (59% each), and lowest with women (44%) and over-60s (45%). Believers mostly attributed the lack of hard evidence for the existence of extra-terrestrial intelligent life to its distance from earth and the inadequacy of communications technology. Disbelievers numbered 28% (peaking at one-third of women and over-60s), more than half of whom claimed that the earth is unique and the only place capable of sustaining intelligent life, although almost one in five cited as their reason for disbelief that humans were created by God or another higher being. A plurality of the whole sample (46%) favoured a digital message being sent by scientists in an attempt to contact extra-terrestrial intelligent life, one-third did not, and one-fifth were uncertain. Full data tables can be accessed via the blog post at:

Talking Jesus

Further to our post of 22 September 2015, ComRes has now published the detailed data tables for its online research, on behalf of Barna Group, on perceptions of Jesus, Christians, and evangelism among samples of all adults and practising Christians in England. See:


On 22 September 2015 the UK Data Archive (UKDA) released as SN 7786 the dataset for ‘Twenty-First Century Evangelicals, 2010-2015’. This comprises documentation and data for thematic and omnibus online surveys conducted by the Evangelical Alliance among self-selecting samples of UK evangelicals during the past five years, and which have been regularly reported on by BRIN. Access to the data is by application from registered UKDA users, under a special licence, but reports, questionnaires, and certain other material are freely available to download via:

Religion and sex

Two days later, on 24 September 2015, UKDA released as SN 7799 the dataset for the ‘National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles, 2010-2012’ (NATSAL III). This was conducted, through a combination of face-to-face interview and self-completion questionnaire, by NatCen Social Research between September 2010 and August 2012 among a sample of 15,162 adults aged 16-74 in Britain (including two booster samples of younger cohorts). The response rate was 58%. Three background questions on religion enable religious attitudes to a wide range of sexual issues to be explored, especially contraception, homosexuality, and sexual experiences. These questions enquired into: the personal importance of religion and religious beliefs; religious affiliation (using a ‘belonging’ form of wording); and frequency of attendance at religious services. The UKDA catalogue description, with links to the codebook and technical report, is at:

General Synod candidates

Elections for the 2015 General Synod of the Church of England have just begun. Of the 851 people standing for the 406 seats in the Houses of Clergy and Laity, 34% are women. The proportion of female candidates for the House of Clergy is, at 28%, fairly close to the representation of women in the Church’s licensed ministry as a whole (32%). However, the number of women standing for election to the House of Laity is 20% fewer than the female share of Anglican congregations, as recorded in the Everyone Counts, 2014 diversity audit, 39% and 59% respectively. 

Mosque statistics

Mehmood Naqshbandi published the latest snapshot of UK Mosque Statistics on 23 September 2015. This revealed a total of 1,834 active mosques and prayer rooms, about one-quarter of which are registered charities. Actual mosques number 1,695, a net increase of 3% over the 2014 figure. The overwhelming majority of these premises (94%) are located in England, six with a capacity of over 5,000 (two each in Bradford, Birmingham, and London). There is a wide range of mosque affiliations, with the commonest being Deobandi (43%) and Bareilvi (25%). Seven in ten mosques overall have facilities for women, albeit there is a variation by affiliation from 50% to 100%. Data have been abstracted from the website, which is now attracting over 150,000 unique visitors each month, following major changes to make it friendlier for mobile devices. UK Mosque Statistics can be found at:

Jewish statistics

A potted history of the now defunct Statistical and Demographic Research Unit of the Board of Deputies of British Jews appears in Geoffrey Alderman, ‘Not Lies but Damned Statistics’, Jewish Chronicle, 25 September 2015, p. 41. The Unit was established in 1965 following revelations of serious Jewish data gaps at a two-day conference on ‘Jewish Life in Modern Britain’ in 1962. ‘There is hardly a single figure that can be quoted with any firmness for the Jewish community of Great Britain today’, one of the speakers had declared gloomily. Initially directed by the late Professor Sigbert Prais as honorary consultant and with Marlena Schmool as research officer, the Unit instituted annual returns of Jewish marriages and deaths and quinquennial surveys of synagogue membership and became involved in several local studies of Jewish populations. Regrettably, according to Alderman, it was ‘undervalued and generally unloved by the community it served’, not least when, during Barry Kosmin’s tenure as the Unit’s executive director in the 1980s, it downwardly revised estimates of the size of that community. This triggered the intervention of ‘communal politics of a particularly nasty variety’. Alderman’s article can be read at:


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