Oxford’s historic Covered Market is to open for trading on Sundays for the first time this summer.
Many shops and stalls in the market have agreed to trial Sunday openings between the hours of 10am and 4pm, beginning 17th of May.
The weekly Sunday openings will possibly continue until November, when the market has previously opened on Sunday in the run up to Christmas.
Richard Alden, spokesman of the Covered Market Traders’ Association said, “I know some traders still have some misgivings about this, but we want to run the trial until the end of September and we are hoping it will be a success.
“Sunday is the second busiest trading day of the week, and during the summer, there are thousands of tourists and language students in Oxford.”
The plans to open the market on Sundays were announced in March by Mary Clarkson, of Oxford City Council, following discussions between council authorities and the Traders’ Association.
Cllr Mrs Clarkson said, “I think Sunday trading is a very good idea. If the scheme is well received, we can then put a system in place for a seamless transition from pilot scheme to permanent.”
However, shopkeepers remain divided in their reactions to the proposed openings.
Andrew Bowles, of Brothers Cafe, was undecided whether the café would open on Sundays. He remarked that many shopkeepers would consider Sunday trading but not necessarily open immediately.
Bowles was concerned that it may not be profitable to open for six hours on Sundays, citing that his business operated with five or six employees and required a lot of daily preparation before and after open hours. He added that as there would be no deliveries on Sunday, it might be difficult to have enough stock to sell.
John Partington, owner of Chocology, was positive about the proposed openings.
“It’s a beautiful place to walk around. The market’s full of independent people offering something different – it’s unique.
“Everywhere else is open on a Sunday, it’s time we were dragged into the 21st century.”
However, he asserted that business was “very tough” after Oxford City Council increased his rent by 48% last year.
“The council are not living in my world. [Sunday openings] will be great for us, we’ll definitely be open, and I think we’ll do very well, but I’d love for anyone in the council to come and work in my shop for a day and get a taste of the real world.”
Asked what he thought about other traders deciding not to open he remarked, “I think a lot of people just want a rest once a week.”