Government Sunday Trading Analysis... based on Sweden in 1972

Today’s publication of the government’s response to their public consultation is a chance to see their analysis all the evidence that has been put forward by groups like us, and also those who favour longer Sunday opening hours.  There’s a team in the Department for Business running this consultation, which launched over six months ago, analysing responses and reviewing the evidence.

So what’s the key evidence they are using?  There is just one statistic on the impact of Sunday trading quoted in the government press release on this, which says that sales increased by 5% when Sunday trading was liberalised in Sweden.  There’s an issue with this: Sweden liberalised its Sunday trading laws in 1972.  Yes, that’s 44 years ago, twice as long ago as parliament voted in our current Sunday trading laws.  The government are seriously basing this controversial announcement on the experience of a country with one eighth of the population of the UK, nearly half a century ago.

Not that it matters, but what happened in 1972 in Sweden is very different to what’s being proposed now.  Before 1972, Swedish convenience stores weren’t allowed to open, so according to the report quoted by the government, convenience stores saw sales grow at the expense of supermarkets, which is the exact opposite of what would happen if the government’s proposals were allowed to pass.

If only the government had newer, British data to work off.  Hang on, it does – the suspension of Sunday trading hours during the Olympics in 2012.  What happened then? Sales went down, and small shops lost out to big shops.  Perhaps it’s not surprising the government has looked to Sweden in 1972 to build its case for longer Sunday opening hours.

We’ve just seen the government’s paper, so we’ll have to see if there are more car crash moments like this buried in it.

This entry was posted by Chris on Tue, 09/02/2016 - 10:42