The government has stated it will not bow to recent pressure on relaxing Sunday trading laws, C-Store has learned.
In an interview with C-Store, Matthew Hancock, the Conservative minister responsible for small business, said there were “no plans in government to change the laws”.
His comments come as Conservative MP Philip Davies tabled five amendments to the Deregulation Bill aimed at scrapping or relaxing the laws, which limit large stores to opening for six hours on Sundays.
Calls to relax Sunday trading hours gained momentum in March through campaign group ‘Open Sundays’, which describes itself as a “broad alliance of consumers, shop workers and retailers”.
Hancock’s comments represent a possible change of government thinking, given that he failed to rule out relaxing the regulations just one month ago. Responding to a Parliamentary question from Davies, he said: “We relaxed the rules during the Olympics, and said at the time that we would assess the impact of that relaxation. A debate about the issue is undoubtedly taking place.”
Referring to Hancock’s latest comments, Association of Convenience Stores public affairs director Shane Brennan said: “We welcome the clear statement of government policy in this area. We know that this government has thought carefully about the case for removing Sunday trading laws and they have concluded that the existing rules are a popular compromise that works and there is no need for change.”
Honeyhill Group retailer John Perrett, who owns 14 Spar stores on the Isle of Wight, said: “We do welcome his promise, but with an election due next year who knows if there will be a change of heart? With so many multiples having c-stores the advantage of being able to trade without restrictions on a Sunday is not as great as it used to be. But we would undoubtedly lose business if the law was repealed.”
The Deregulation Bill is currently at report stage and is due to be debated in Parliament.
A full interview with Matthew Hancock will appear in the next issue of Convenience Store.