There was a first for the industry last week, as a North Wales c-store became the first commercial premises in the UK to become a stroke information point. Local customers were able to have their blood pressure checked in store, and leaflets and other material will be available for the community all the long hours that the store is open, which is a much more convenient option than busy hospitals or GP surgeries.
Of course, it is precisely this community win-win that is being undermined by government proposals to devolve Sunday trading hours to local authorities.
The government claims that, because Sunday trading is “sensitive”, it is best left to people to decide locally through their elected councils or mayors. In reality we know that store catchment areas do not neatly correspond to local authority boundaries, and it is inconceivable that one major supermarket would stand idly by while their competitor a mile away is permitted to open for longer hours. So the liberalisation of hours in one area would create a domino effect across the country, threatening the livelihoods of thousands of small retailers. And while this would be a personal tragedy for the store owners and staff concerned, it would also be a tragedy for the communities that they serve.
There’s still just about time to lobby your MP to block the legislation, and if you are able to get to the campaign meeting in Westminster next Monday, the ACS, NFRN and Keep Sunday Special would welcome your personal support.