Retail groups have spoken out today against what they describe as ‘the gradual erosion of our society’s values’ as complacent British consumers fail to keep Sundays special by spending them at the shops. With the rise of internet shopping and many supermarkets providing a 24-hour service, high-streets have seen a worrying drop in Sunday shoppers as people shun the age-old custom of passing the Sunday trading hours in acts of purchase.
‘It’s a sad day when society forgets what the Sabbath is for,’ said Stephen Robertson, Director General of the British Retail Consortium. ‘While many still observe the major festivals and turn out to the shops at Christmas, we’re finding that more and more people are moving away from the traditional Sunday shopping experience. Organised, communal consumerism is what keeps societies strong, but it no longer seems to be relevant to people’s lives, and our economy is weaker for it.‘
Yet despite the general public’s growing indifference, a small band of born-again shoppers are rowing against the tide of deserters. ‘I was never a regular shopper in my youth, if I’m honest,’ said Dave Wilkins, a fervent Sunday shop-goer, ‘but my wife got me back on the straight and narrow. She’s always insisted that Sunday shopping provides a focus to the week and a chance to reflect on what’s important. Each week we spruce ourselves up for a trip to the shops and she gives the kids the usual lecture about how they should be grateful for the opportunities for Sunday trading that she didn’t have as a child.‘
‘It’s just a pleasure to spend Sundays together in large retail complexes,’ agreed Dave‘s wife, Mel. ‘The architecture is awe-inspiring and never fails to remind me that I’m in the presence of omnipotent forces I can only begin to understand. I just love to take myself off to the fitting rooms for some quiet reflection, before putting something in the collection at the tills on the way out. It’s our way of saying thanks. And its so reassuring to see the security guards keeping an eye out for those who’ve lost their way.’
Although the outlook appears bleak for retailers, church leaders are much more positive about the return of religion as a guiding force in people’s lives. Churches have reported a rise in attendance at Sunday evening mass as those unfortunate enough not to live near an all-night Tesco Express pop in on their way back from Ikea to top up on bread and table wine.