Mike Cherry, policy director at the FSB says, ‘Today’s vote in the House of Commons is a major win for small businesses across England and Wales.
‘Our members have been unconvinced of the economic case for relaxing Sunday trading rules and there has been no impact assessment to support the proposals. FSB calls on ministers to listen to the views of small business and of the House of Commons on this issue.’
Cherry adds that the current system can be seen as a great British compromise which allows families to spend time together, employees to work if they wish to, and provides much needed support for smaller retailers within their communities.
Government figures published yesterday suggested that extended Sunday trading hours would benefit the UK economy by an estimated £1.5 billion over ten years.
Business minister Anna Soubry feels that it should be up to councils to decide what is right for their communities.
‘Shop workers will get more protections under our plans for those that do not want to work Sundays and if people want to work longer, they will have that flexibility,’ she says.
John Witherell, head of the supermarket division at CBRE UK says that, ultimately, handover of control to local councils will allow those authorities the flexibility to act in the best interests of their high streets.
‘While this flexibility will have its benefits, it could be the consumer who is adversely affected, with possible confusion if the policy is adopted differently by neighbouring authorities,’ he adds.
‘Should restrictions be relaxed, out-of-town supermarkets will see certainly see consumers taking advantage of the extended shopping hours, but simply spending over a longer period, rather than spending any more.’
This will be at the detriment of the retailer; facing increased costs as they trade for longer without the increased income to balance it out, Witherell adds.
‘Whatever is decided by each authority, there needs to be consistency in how it is delivered rather than a splintered approach: if consumers aren’t clear, the overall benefits won’t be felt.’