Sunday Trading

So you would expect me to be writing about Sunday trading this week.  The Chancellor's decision to devolve decisions on Sunday trading hours to mayors or councils is a hammer blow to our sector, and puts in jeopardy a piece of legislation that helps small shops and that has become totemic for our members.

There are lots of issues I could raise, and you can see more in our press releases and other statements.  The one point I want to focus on here is the re-writing of history that has gone one regarding the 2012 suspension of Sunday trading laws during the London Olympics.  Apparently, this was a success, and demonstrated that liberalising Sunday trading grows sales and creates jobs.  There's just one problem - absolutely no independent evidence supports this.

The BRC's sales monitor showed a 0.4% decline in retail sales between August 2011 and August 2012, and the ONS showed a 0.2% decline in sales from July 2012 to August 2012. The more detailed ONS analysis, shared by BIS (the same government department leading the current charge to liberalise Sunday trading) showed a 24% decline in sales in London.  The big sales increases were in those iconic Olympic tourist havens Portsmouth and Sheffield.

None of this tells us anything about the effect of liberalising Sunday trading at that time.  It simply shows that none of the crude sales data is conclusive, and other factors must have influenced these changes far more than the Sunday trading or indeed the Olympics.  The data is meaningless as an analysis of the impact of Sunday trading hours.

Fortunately someone did some more detailed location based analysis of sales in convenience stores at that time - us.  Or, more accurately, Oxford Economics on our behalf.  And this showed to a very high degree of statistical certainty that convenience stores - particularly those closest to supermarkets - lost sales during that period compared to previous years.

Again, there could be all sorts of factors in play here, but there's more evidence that suspending Sunday trading for the Olympics was bad for the economy than any suggesting it aided UK plc.  I hope the rest of this debate will be conducted without this experience being misinterpreted and misrepresented.

This entry was posted by Chris on Wed, 08/07/2015 - 15:59