Sunday trading changes set to damage high streets
The plans to devolve Sunday trading regulations to local authorities have been condemned by the Association of Convenience Stores as damaging to high streets.
The government is pressing ahead with plans to allow local councils to extend trading hours on Sundays.
Amendments to the Enterprise Bill will be introduced to enable the change in hours to be made in the autumn.
Ministers said that local retailers will have the flexibility to adjust hours so they can compete for trade.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: "Changing Sunday trading regulations will not help the high street; it would actually damage small high street stores as trade would get diverted to large out of town supermarkets.
While ministers talk of increasing high street sales, the reality is that the public won't have more money to spend just because the shops are open longer. People will simply spend the same amount of money over a longer period of time, increasing the cost base for many larger stores.
"Extending Sunday trading hours will not affect high street competitiveness with online shopping. A poll of 2,000 people conducted by Populus in January 2016 showed that of those who prefer to shop online instead of on the high street, not a single one cited Sunday trading legislation as their reason for doing so. The reasons given ranged from online shopping being more convenient, cheaper and easier than shopping on the high street but opening hours were not a factor. Additionally, of the companies that reported their trading updates post-Christmas, not a single one cited Sunday trading regulations as a factor that affected their sales.
"More than two-thirds of the general public support the current Sunday trading laws. We cannot allow this unpopular, unnecessary and damaging legislation to be forced through Parliament when it did not feature in the Conservative manifesto, and when there is such strong opposition from within all parties at Westminster and from a broad coalition of shop workers, small shops, family groups and churches."
ACS is part of the campaign group Keep Sunday Special (www.keepsundayspecial.org.uk )
ActSmart work alongside ACS and fourteen other membership organisations to form the Independent Retailers Confederation (IRC) which provides a platform to increase the profile and voice of independent retailing within Government and Parliament.
IRC members share intelligence on political, policy and government relationship issues and wherever possible work together to champion small business issues.
The combined representation of the IRC provides a strong campaigning body, enhancing the support that organisations can deliver to their membership.
The IRC also provides the Secretariat for the All Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group (APPSSG). This group, Chaired by Priti Patel MP, runs a range policy relevant debates each years to engage parliamentarians on small shop policy issues.