In the summer of 2015, ACS launched one of its biggest ever campaigns in opposition to changes to Sunday Trading regulations announced by the Chancellor in his July Budget. We lobbied hard to ensure that the issue was front-of-mind for MPs, and as a result of the campaigning work, a sizeable group of Conservative MPs and the Scottish National Party publicly stated that they would vote against a change in the rules.
After the national press essentially went silent on the issue toward the end of last year, you could be forgiven for thinking that the battle on Sunday trading regulations has been won. However, this is absolutely not the case. The Government have made clear their intention to press ahead with plans to devolve Sunday trading setting powers to local authorities, and although they were unable to do so in the Cities and Devolution Bill as initially planned, they still have vehicles in Parliament (most likely the Enterprise Bill) to get the regulations through. This is despite overwhelming evidence that it would harm small shops and have a negligible impact on supermarket sales.
The campaign so far has been successful in demonstrating to Government that there are hundreds of thousands of retailers, retail staff and members of the public who are opposed to any change to the regulations. By teaming up with other organisations and presenting a united voice through the Keep Sunday Special brand, we have made our presence felt all the way up to Downing Street.
Retaining the existing Sunday Trading regulations is one of the most important issues that the convenience sector has ever faced including forecourt stores. The popular compromise that was put in place just over 20 years ago is one of the very few small advantages that convenience stores have over their much larger counterparts, and for many small stores this is one of the busiest periods of the week.
We are urging all retailers across the sector, operating on forecourts and in communities across England and Wales, to make their voices heard. Write to your MP calling on them to support yours and other local small businesses by opposing changes to Sunday trading regulations. You can support the campaign and keep up with the latest news at www.keepsundayspecial.org.uk