Battle ahead for businesses as Sunday trading law changes look likely
For the past twenty years, trading laws in the UK have meant that larger stores can only open during restricted hours on Sundays for a maximum of 6 hours.
The measures were introduced to safeguard shop workers' leisure time, but now new changes look likely to change the face of weekend shopping for many Britons.
A new proposal put forward for consultation suggests that local authorities and elected mayors could soon decide on whether or not Sunday trading rules should be altered to allow larger stores to stay open all weekend.
The changes appear to be fuelled by the impact that the 24-hour online shopping culture is having on the wider economy.
The Government's apparent concerns about high street stores competing with major online retailers are backed by recent data from Visa.
The company reported that since 2011 face-to-face spending has increased by 35% on Sundays, which represents a bigger difference in growth rates between it and online spending than on any other day of the week.
Kevin Jenkins, UK & Ireland managing director Visa Europe, commented: "Extended opening hours on a Sunday could allow retailers to tap into consumer demand to shop, as well as use services such as click and collect, across the weekend."
According to the Association for Convenience Stores, small business retailers could lose out.
Chief executive of the ACS, James Lowman, said that smaller stores would be in danger of losing business if longer trading hours were introduced at bigger competitors.
Lowman said: “By pressing on with this unpopular and unnecessary measure, the Government has turned its back on thousands of independent retailers, many of which will now be under threat of becoming unprofitable if changes to Sunday trading laws are made in their area.”
Pic: Henry Burrows