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Sunday Trading hours- let the locals decide

 

Posted At: 13 July 2015 00:55 AM
Related Categories: Retail

 

On the 8th July Chancellor George Osborne announced the relaxation of Sunday trading hours. He proclaimed a new legislation that will enable local councils and their mayors to decide and set the trading hours in their respective areas, which will end the national ban on large stores staying open for more than six hours.

With two decades of strict Sunday regulations behind us, Mr Osborne wants to give power back to the local communities so they can determine their own futures. With many high streets continuing to struggle up and down the country, what can we expect from the new Sunday opening hours?

The main thought is the impact on the UK high street. With the ever growing and changing needs of today’s consumer and the growth and flexibility that online retailers such as Amazon offer, as well as click and collect and online delivery, competition is intense.

The extension of the Sunday trading hours could be a step in the right direction to further promote high street growth, opening for longer could help bricks and mortar retailers put up more competition to online retailers. The lobby group Open Sundays claims the reform could bring in £20.3 billion over 20 years to the British economy.

This may also open up further employment opportunities. In London alone, research has shown that extending Sunday trading by only two hours would create nearly 3,000 jobs, and generate more than £200 million a year in extra income.

These changes would also bring the UK in line with its international competitors; Paris has recently relaxed restrictions on Sunday trading, while there are none at all in New York. Back in 2012, regulations were relaxed for the six weeks in July 2012 during the Olympics, which resulted in 4% increase in sales, mainly in the food and clothing sectors.

Giving the power back to local council’s means that the local people will be able to adapt to local demand. However those councils and parish’s which are more traditional may decide to opt out all together. If the government really wants to promote high street rejuvenation should this not be rolled our country wide?

The question we really need to ask is ‘will people spend more, or will they just spend on a different day?’. The Olympics was a test of this approach, however its main benefactor was London and the South East. Whichever way councils decide, this change will potentially impact the whole of the UK. As the new laws take into effect, FSP will be watching developments closely.
 

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The opinions expressed herein are the personal opinion of the author and are not intended as statements of fact and do not represent the view of SnapShop or Pragma in any way.

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