Co-op Midcounties has added its voice to those calling on the government to abandon proposals to suspend Sunday trading laws in England and Wales.
The society’s chief executive Phil Ponsonby has written to Business Secretary Alok Sharma calling on the government to drop the plan, stating that the proposals would not stimulate the economy.
Co-op Midcounties, which claims to be the UK’s largest independent consumer co-operative, warned that if the current Sunday Trading laws are suspended, many local community stores across the country would no longer be economically viable and may be driven out of business, depriving these communities of essential services a causing disproportionately damaging impact on more remote and deprived communities across the UK.
Ponsonby said: “We understand the government’s desire to consider measures to stimulate the economy as we look to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s essential that the impact of these measures is properly considered.
“In our view, a suspension of the current Sunday Trading laws would not result in increased consumer spending, but would be likely to reduce spending over time if community stores are forced to close.
“The current arrangement of six hours opening on a Sunday is popular, striking a balance between the needs of shopworkers, consumers, high streets and all types of business.
“But most importantly, the proposal to suspend Sunday Trading laws could lead to some local community stores in the most disadvantaged and remote areas of the UK being forced to close. This would deprive these communities of access to essential services, leading to further increases in deprivation and isolation.
“At a time when these stores have been working tirelessly to meet the needs of their local communities, it is unfortunate and saddening to see the government considering measures which would only favour the big multiple operators, and it’s essential that calls for any change to the current system are resisted.”