Sunday Trading Plans Would Harm High Street, Cost Jobs and Threaten Local Shops

The Association of Convenience Stores has warned that Government plans to remove Sunday trading hours are unpopular, will cost jobs and damage high streets.

In its submission to the Government’s consultation on devolving the power to set Sunday trading rules locally, ACS has revealed the results of a survey of local authority chief executives showing that the measure would benefit out of town stores over high streets and town centres.

The survey showed:

  • 52% of local authority chief executives included out of town retail parks, out of town supermarkets and large shopping centres as their first or second preference for deregulation of shopping locations.
  • 45% felt that they would be influenced by the decision of neighbouring authorities, suggesting a ‘domino effect’ where authorities will be more inclined to remove Sunday trading rules if other authorities do so.
  • 64% are concerned about the confusion that devolution of Sunday trading hours will cause consumers
  • 69% are concerned about the displacement of trade that differing trade hours would cause between regulated and deregulated areas.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The Government claimed when launching this policy that it would boost high street sales, but this is simply not true because most high street stores are already able to open whenever they want.  The clear winners would be out of town retail parks and large superstores.  While ministers think local authorities would use these powers to help high streets, councils themselves say that they would deregulate hours for out of town stores and shopping centres.

New research from Oxford Economics based on the change to the current laws in 1994 and the suspension of Sunday trading laws in 2012 undermines the Government’s claim that unrestricted Sunday trading would bring a £1.4bn boost to the economy. Oxford Economics concludes that scrapping the current rules will primarily serve to divert trade from small stores to larger stores, and would cost jobs.

Mr Lowman continued: “Allowing large stores to open 24/7 will not create any more trade, but will simply displace it from local shops to large superstores.   As a net impact, this will lead to job losses.”

ACS research has shown that 23% of retailers report that they would have to cut staff hours in response to reduced sales from Sunday trading changes.

Mr Lowman continued: “During the Government’s failed experiment on removing Sunday Trading laws for the Olympics in 2012, local shops lost up to 20% of their sales on Sundays while wider retail sales also fell between 0.2% and 0.4%. These plans have the potential to put thousands of small stores at risk. We urge the Government to scrap these unwanted, unnecessary and misguided plans.”

This entry was posted by Victoria on Tue, 22/09/2015 - 05:00
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