It's official - there will be no changes to the current Sunday trading regime for the foreseeable future, and C-Store has played its part in securing this vital victory for the small store sector.
Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling announced last week that, following a review of Sunday trading laws, no change in the Sunday Trading Act 1994 will be sought. He said: "With the Sunday trading laws having been in place for many years, it was important that we looked at whether they were still appropriate.
"As part of our review we commissioned an independent cost-benefit analysis and sought a wide range of views on the subject in an informal consultation. We received nearly 1,000 responses to the consultation from consumers, religious groups, employees and business, with no substantial demand for change."
In November last year Convenience Store, in partnership with the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), commissioned a BMRB poll which showed that 68% of shoppers did not want large stores to open longer hours on Sundays, and this study formed a key part of ACS' submission to government in favour of the status quo.
A separate study commissioned by shopworkers' union Usdaw at the same time produced similar results, and this was backed up by intensive political lobbying by Usdaw, ACS and other trade associations, including a parliamentary early day motion and a concerted letter-writing campaign.
The ACS hailed the announcement as "a victory". ACS government relations manager Shane Brennan said: "We are delighted that the government has listened to us. We have maintained from the outset that change was not wanted by the majority of retailers, shopworkers, or customers. We are grateful to ministers and MPs who have listened to our case and responded favourably."
He added: "We congratulate all those involved in the campaign, including the hundreds of independent retailers who lobbied their MPs. And the survey commissioned by Convenience Store was a crucial piece of evidence that we could use to support our case."
The Rural Shops Alliance (RSA) submitted evidence to the government. RSA chief executive Sean Carter said: "This is an incredibly important victory and one vital to the continued survival of smaller shops. RSA retail members told us that they are dependant on their Sunday trade and that it represents in excess of 15% of their week's turnover.
"They also stated that their customers were fed up with the continued monopoly of the superstores."