Mixed reaction to Sunday trading proposal
Businesses and community leaders in the local area have reacted varyingly to the Chancellor’s announcement of potential changes to Sunday trading hours, a move that’s already being described as ‘the biggest shake-up’ in retail since the 1990s.The chancellor is planning to allow local councils and mayors to determine how long regional businesses will be allowed to open.
Under the current law, smaller shops are allowed to open all day, but those bigger than 3,000 square feet are limited to six hours of trading. The law was temporarily removed during the 2012 London Olympics, and led to an increase in sales and general performance.
“Even two decades on from the introduction of the Sunday Trading Act, it is clear that there is still a growing appetite for shopping on a Sunday.
“There is some evidence that transactions for Sunday shopping are actually growing faster than those for Saturday.
“The rise of online shopping, which people can do round the clock, also means more retailers want to be able to compete by opening for longer at the weekend.
“But this won’t be right for every area, so I want to devolve the power to make this decision to mayors and local authorities.”
Lucy Boazman, part of Camberley’s Business Improvement District, said that the proposals could be good for the town.
“With the increasing presence of online retail, shopping habits have changed dramatically over the last few years,” she said.
“Consumers want to shop at times that are convenient to them and extending Sunday trading hours is a great way to reflect this.
“It’s a really important opportunity for businesses and one I hope they are able to take advantage of.”
Amanda Masters, general manager of Experience Guildford, though, had different opinions, voicing her concern that smaller shops could lose out as a result of increased flexibility for larger competitors.
Some religious leaders have reacted badly to the plans, with a Church of England Spokesman maintaining that ‘a common day of rest is important for family life, for community life and for personal well-being.’