The Chancellor’s proposal for relaxed Sunday trading laws during the Olympics is a major threat to the independent sector. Join us to fight it

So much for democracy: A consultation on Sunday trading last year, as part of the government’s Red Tape Challenge, revealed overwhelming opposition to tampering with the status quo, which limits large stores to opening for six hours on a Sunday. As such, the government decided against cutting this necessary red tape. A recent poll commissioned by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) showed that 89% of the public were opposed to further liberalisation of Sunday trading laws, backing up what the Red Tape Challenge had revealed.

Yet Chancellor George Osborne has revealed that Sunday trading laws will be suspended for the eight weeks of the Olympics. Furthermore, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) was unable to provide C-Store with an analysis of the Red Tape Challenge consultation.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said the move would cost small businesses more than £480m. He added: “Sunday Trading relaxation will present artificial growth in large stores and supermarkets, paid for by loss of trade in local shops. The government is undertaking this measure without consultation after twice rejecting the idea last year.”

What we want

  • The government to reconsider plans to relax Sunday trading laws over the Olympic period
  • Assurances that the move will not be rolled out permanently
  • Assurances from local MPs that they will back the current status quo

What you can do

National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN) president Kieran McDonnell said the move was “wholly against the grain of the sustainable communities and localism agenda and the government’s commitment to support small shops”.

Retailers fear a dangerous precedent has been set which could lead to a permanent change.

But the fightback has begun, with industry associations collaborating to overturn the decision. The ACS, NFRN, Federation of Wholesale Distributors, National Federation of Sub-Postmasters and Rural Shops Alliance are among those who have published a pro-forma postcard which you can send to your MP. Contact C-Store or the ACS for a copy. You can also write separately to your MP. In your letter, we recommend you include the following:

● Being able to trade longer than the supermarkets on a Sunday is the only advantage I have over them. Removing this will put my business and jobs at risk

● In the current tough economic times, this measure will not create any more customer spend, especially in the majority of the country which will not benefit from overseas visitors. It will simply spread the trade more thinly between existing shops

● By extending Sunday opening during the Olympics, people will have less leisure time, which will undermine their ability to enjoy the Olympics and communities’ ability to celebrate the Games.

You can call on your MP to raise the matter in Parliament and write to the Chancellor and the responsible minister, Mark Prisk, to pass on your views. Finally, urge your MP to vote against any Bill to liberalise Sunday trading. ■