On September 16, the Government will begin to analyse the responses that it has received over the past six weeks to its consultation on changing Sunday trading rules.
When announcing the consultation, planning minister Brandon Lewis suggested that the rules would allow local authorities to allow large stores operating on high streets to open longer, while still restricting hours for out-of-town stores.
We know from years of experience in the planning system that leaving decisions up to local authorities about out-of-town vs in town shopping only result in out-of-town stores being given an advantage. Most of the stores operating on high streets are under 3,000sq ft anyway, and are currently free to trade longer if they wish.
The potential impact that these changes could have on stores must not be underestimated. When the Government relaxed trading laws during the 2012 Olympics, Oxford Economics calculated that it cost between £9.7m and £26m in lost sales in convenience stores. Over the course of a year, this would amount to somewhere between £63m and £169m.
Every convenience store in England and Wales has to write to their MP opposing a move to 24-hour Sunday trading, asking them to relay their concerns to the Prime Minister.
We have a template letter available on our website but we also encourage you to write your own letters, outlining the impact that removing Sunday trading regulations will have on your business.
It’s also important that we believe we can make a difference, and we can.
Those of us opposing these changes – unions, church groups or small retail groups – are making headway, and the Government is presenting their plans in a confusing way with poor evidence to support their case. Now is the time to step up and play your part.
It’s not too late to lobby your MP. Here’s a step-by-step guide showing you how to do it.