Keep Sunday Special has launched a campaign to keep the Sunday trading laws.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, a wide range of Keep Sunday Special supporters have highlighted how a change to current Sunday shopping hours contravenes the Prime Minister’s own family friendly policy agenda launched last year, bows to pressure from large retailers, and would cause confusion with different councils setting different local rules.
The letter states: “Sunday shopping hours represent a valued compromise allowing people to shop, retailers to trade and shopworkers to spend time with their families.
“Polling from February 2015 showed that 76% of the public support existing Sunday trading hours and don’t want to see any change.”
The Keep Sunday Special Campaign is supported by a range of small business organisations, churches and shop workers to deliver three messages: the public support the existing compromise, Sundays are special day for families and communities, and any change in the law will damage small businesses.
Keep Sunday Special research director John Ashcroft said: “If one local area deregulates Sunday trading others will be forced to follow suit. Spreading existing sales over a longer period will mean fewer people are able to choose to spend time with family and friends, fewer people enjoy quieter mornings with less traffic, and the distinctive freedoms and opportunities of a different day will be eroded.”
Association of Convenience Stores 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. Sunday Trading regulations as they stand are a popular compromise that provide crucial support for thousands of local shops. 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.”
John Hannett, general secretary of the shop workers union USDAW, said: “The Sunday Trading Act is a great British compromise, which has worked well for 20 years and gives everyone a bit of what they want while Sunday remains a special day and shopworkers can spend some time with their family. Extending trading hours will not create more jobs as retailers will simply move staff hours to fit any new trading patterns. The Government would be wise to pull back from this unpopular and unworkable devolution of trading hours.”
Church of England director of mission and public affairs Malcolm Brown said: “Most people would recognise Sunday as being different to other days of the week. Whether it’s spending time with family, going out together, being at worship or simply resting, what’s different about Sunday is that it’s an opportunity for shared time off together. If we treat Sunday as any other shopping day, we risk putting further strain on family and community life. I hope the Government will look seriously at the impact on families before it decides whether to make these changes.”
NFRN chief executive Paul Baxter commented: “The government continues to suggest that these changes will even the playing field for retailers against their online competitors, yet we are alert to the fact that previous relaxation of these laws lead only to the spread of spending, rather than an increase. If these changes are allowed to go ahead they will have a devastating impact on independent retailers’ businesses, leading to further decay of the high street.”
Federation of Wholesale Distributors chief executive James Bielby said: “FWD represents the wholesalers who supply and support 72,000 small food and drink retailers, many of whom provide vital services on the doorstep of less mobile and less well-off people. They support communities in residential and rural areas, giving their customers the option to shop when and where they need to, and buy fresh food every day. The current Sunday trading laws help them provide their service to millions of people, not only on Sundays, but throughout the week. We encourage the Government to keep Sunday special, and to keep our valuable independent shops special too.”