Government pushes ahead with relaxed Sunday trading
Posted: Tue 2nd Feb 2016
Business secretary Sajid Javid has announced that the government is moving forward with plans to devolve responsibility for Sunday trading hours to local authorities meaning that more stores could open longer.
Since 1994 restrictions have been placed on the amount of times shops can open on Sunday. Small stores under under 280 square metres can open for as long as they want, but retailers bigger than that can only trade for six hours.
Under the changes, which will be added to the Enterprise Bill that's currently going through Parliament, unitary and district councils in England, county and county borough councils in Wales, and the Mayor of London will have the power to relax laws in particular areas allowing all local shops to open longer.
Minister say the measures will help boost high streets hit by the increasing popularity of online shopping.
"These new powers are about giving local areas the choice to extend Sunday trading hours to meet the needs of their local businesses and communities", Javid said. "It is local people who will make the decision.
"Extending Sunday trading hours has the potential to help businesses and high streets across the UK better compete as our shopping habits change."
First announced in George Osborne's 2015 Summer Budget, the proposals have proved controversial. Big retailers like Dixons Carphone have welcomed the changes, but the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) said small stores could suffer.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: "Changing Sunday trading regulations will not help the high street; it would actually damage small high street stores as trade would get diverted to large out of town supermarkets.
"While ministers talk of increasing high street sales, our survey of local councils shows that extended Sunday hours would be applied to out of town parks, hurting high streets.
"The government's claim that there is a link between the growth of online retailing and the opening hours of shops is simply wrong. Many stores opened for very long hours on Black Friday, only to see more customers stay at home and shop online than in previous years.
"Shoppers are using the internet to search out lower prices, to save time, and to access a wide range of products. Sunday trading restrictions are not a factor in the growth of online shopping."
Trade unions have expressed concern about the impact on workers, but today's announcement includes a change to employment law which means shop workers would be able to give just one month's notice to large shops that they no longer want to work Sundays, instead of the current three months. They will also have a new right to opt out of working additional hours.
What do you think? Will relaxed Sunday trading boost your local high street? Comment below.