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ACT NOW: Government plans to suspend Sunday Trading laws

Representatives from the independent convenience store sector are concerned following reports that the Government is planning to suspend Sunday trading laws in a bid to boost the economy as the country continues to moves out of the Covid-19 lockdown.

For retailers with a small convenience store, these laws give what some would consider their only advantage when competing with major supermarkets, helping to maintain a balance between large and small stores providing food and other essential products. This latest move looks to undermine these workers, at a time when they are playing an essential part in keeping communities fed and supported.

Research also shows that the current compromise of six hours opening on a Sunday is popular with the majority of the public, striking a balance between the needs of shop workers, consumers, high streets and all types of business. A Populus poll last month for Keep Sunday Special showed that 58% of the public support the current laws, and only 21% oppose them, of which a proportion would actually like to see more restrictions in place and not less.

As well as having a detrimental effect on the convenience sector, there are also fears the longer opening hours will have a further damaging effect on the high streets with shops incurring more costs by keeping open for longer when they potentially will be struggling to bring in sales. There is a strong view within the sector however that this measure would divert trade away from smaller community-based stores to larger supermarkets, bringing no net sales growth, a decline in jobs because of supermarkets’ economies of scale, and fewer local shops.

Leading industry bodies, ACS and FWD are helping to co-ordinate responses to demonstrate a strong opposition to this and here is how you can get involved:

  • Independent Retailers
    • A pro forma letter is available to download from here for independent retailers to send to their local MP. You can find details of where to send this here > https://members.parliament.uk/FindYourMP
    • Retailers are also being encouraged to be as active as possible if they use social media to raise this matter in their local community and with fellow retailers and the public
    • Retailers can also download posters to display in their store to promote the campaign here > https://nfrnonline.com/keep-sunday-special/
  • Convenience multiples, symbol groups and wholesalers
    • ACS and FWD have asked for as many businesses / head offices to write directly to the business secretary Alok Sharma as well as their local MP (contact details for Alok Sharma > https://members.parliament.uk/member/4014/contact).  A letter guide provided by the ACS is available to download from here, however businesses have been strongly urged to personalise these with information specific to their business.

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