Independent retailers are pinning their hopes on a sales uplift this weekend, as the eight-week relaxation of Sunday trading laws is at an end.
Ramesh Shingadia of Londis Southwater in Horsham, West Sussex, said that trade had been down on Sundays during the relaxation period. “There was definitely a downturn during the temporary relaxation. I’m looking forward to it going back to normal,” he said.
Sunder Sandher of Londis in Headington, Oxfordshire, was also hit hard by the change. “It used to be my best day of the week, but now the other stores are open, we’ve dropped 20% of our Sunday sales,” he said. “Hopefully, we can get this trade back after the relaxation.”
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Norfolk retailer Nigel Dowdney, recounted how his Sunday sales had fallen by 20% and warned against a permanent relaxation.
“Extending opening hours only leads to people spending their spare money over a longer period, with no boost to the economy. We currently have a decent compromise which should be maintained,” he said.
His comments came after Communities and Local Government Minister Eric Pickles said he would examine the sales figures, despite the government’s repeated insistence that the eight-week period was “not a test case for permanent relaxation”.
The temporary relaxation proved to be of no benefit to the economy, with the latest BRC-KPMG retail sales monitor showing a 0.4% downturn in UK like-for-like sales, despite hot weather and the Olympics.
Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) chief executive James Lowman said the figures demonstrated the suspension had no impact on sales overall. “ACS has consistently argued that the temporary suspension of the rules was unnecessary and these figures show that permanent changes are without merit,” he said.
“There is no economic or social case for a permanent relaxation of Sunday trading rules - it will damage local shops, and the consumers have shown they don’t want it,” added Federation of Wholesale Distributors chief executive James Bielby.