Figures released by Government as part of a consultation on changes to Sunday Trading regulations have been dismissed as out of date and misleading, by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).
In the consultation, Government uses the following statistics to justify its decision:
• Benefits equivalent to £1.4bn a year: Figures taken from a 2006 report, which include money saved by companies through the reduction in a “Sunday premium” on wages
• Spend increased 12.5% as a result of deregulation: Figures reference potential sales change in a country that has no Sunday opening moving to a fully deregulated system. Sales change in the UK is estimated to be 0.14%, but the authors of the report question whether this could be “simply a redirection [of trade] from other segments”.
• 15% of individuals would shop later on Sunday at a supermarket: Figures reference a 2005 ONS report, which also states that 77% do not plan to change their shopping habits.
• 450,000 foreign tourists stayed in London during the Games in 2012: No figures included on sales performance during this period. BRC/KPMG figures suggest sales fell 0.4%
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Every figure that the Government has put forward to justify the case for changing Sunday Trading regulations is significantly flawed. Half of the evidence that they have used is from a decade ago when the retail market was markedly different, and the other half has been misinterpreted beyond recognition. There was no robust case for changing Sunday Trading hours in 2006, no case in 2012 after the Olympic Games and there remains no case in 2015.
“Not only is the consultation a mess, Government itself is in chaos over these proposals. We have been given no details about which Bill the plans are set to be taken forward in and whether they’ll receive proper parliamentary scrutiny. It appears as though neither the Department for Business nor the Department for Communities and Local Government want it, and are playing hot potato with this controversial and unnecessary change to legislation.”
Questions have also been raised about the Prime Minister’s commitment to the legislation. In a letter from the Prime Minister’s office earlier this year, it was stated: “We believe that the current system provides a reasonable balance between those who wish to see more opportunity to shop in large stores on a Sunday, and those who would like to see further restrictions.”