Last week George Osborne used his Budget to provide the answer on a Sunday trading question that no one had asked.
His plan to give elected mayors and councils more power to relax Sunday trading laws locally, allowing shops in England and Wales to open around the clock, could spell the end of many c-stores.
The law change could devastate small shops, say retailers. “Sunday hours meant there was more of a balance between the multiples and us,” said Chaz Chal of Costcutter, Bromsgrove. “Now this has been taken away.”
Kuldip Singh, who runs Devonshire Road News in Smethwick, Birmingham, added: “The Government are allowing the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer. The gap is getting bigger and they aren’t trying to help us.”
Unsurprisingly, the convenience industry came out in force against the chancellor’s plan. “The short period of time that small stores are open while large stores are shut is a crucial advantage for convenience stores,” said ACS chief executive James Lowman. “Liberalising Sunday trading hours would make some small stores unviable.”
NFRN chief executive Paul Baxter added: “All it will do is harm the trade of independent retailers as consumers will choose to visit those stores that do not charge for parking and are more accessible than the high street.”
Michael Weedon, deputy CEO at the British Independent Retailers Association, told us that most of the business in supermarkets is done between 11am and 3pm on Sundays, rather than 10am to 4pm, so it’s not obvious how much benefit the big operators will get. He said: “The one thing you can be sure of is that zero extra pounds will be spent overall if hours are extended.”
What do you think of these proposals? Leave your voice in the comments below and on twitter using hashtag #SaveOurSundays