No one seems to agree about loosening trading hours on Sundays. Some say that longer trading hours can be an opportunity to increase sales. Others say it can be stressful for small businesses. The issue is that if smaller shops have to compete with larger shops, the measure can bring profound financial distress. Those businesses might then need the intervention of agencies such as MGJL to help with financial recovery.
The most obvious advantage of increasing trading hours on Sundays is the increased revenue potential. If most other businesses in the area aren’t open on Sunday, consumers might be likely to spend more money with small businesses open during Sundays.
To determine whether increasing trading hours on Sundays would be beneficial or not, really depends on each business return on investment and return on objective. If the staff and utilities costs are less than the profits, it might be worth it.
Despite these advantages, to increase longer trading hours on Sundays proofed to be extremely controversial when the Government tried to pass a new law, on March 2016. Some smaller shops were fearful about the proposal, fearing competition, as the new legislation seemed to be more beneficial to town retail parks rather than high streets.
The existing Sunday trading laws protect small shops, as it allows small shops of less than 3,000 sq ft to open all day but it prevents large stores from opening for more than six hours on a Sunday. In England and Wales, shops larger than 3,000 square feet (280 square metres) can be open on Sundays for up to six hours, between 10am and 6pm.
For the past two years, the government tried to plan and implement new regulation to allow shops to open for longer on Sundays. The argument was that by loosening the current law with more flexible regulations, more stores would be able to compete with online retailers, which trade seven days a week. Sunday longer trading hours was already experimented in 2012, during the Olympics, when the government temporarily suspended Sunday trading laws.
The debate happened in February and March 2016. Labour opposed the plan pointing out that employees could be forced to work when they do not want to. The Church of England, and Tory traditionalists said Sunday should remain a day of rest. The measure was also met with opposition from trade unions and the Scottish National party besides the more traditionalist members of the Government.
James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores said in 2016 that: “Changing Sunday trading regulations will not help the high street. It would actually damage small high street stores as trade would get diverted to large out of town supermarkets. While ministers talk of increasing high street sales, our survey of local councils shows that extended Sunday hours would be applied to out of town parks, hurting high streets.”
The Church of England also opposed to any relaxation of the current law saying it had seen no evidence that further liberalisation would bring tangible economic benefit. Alan Smith, bishop of St Albans mentioned that:
“We know that over half of shop workers in large stores already feel pressure to work on Sundays, and an increase in opening hours will only lead to more people being pressured into spending Sunday apart from their children and families,”
The bill’s proposals with regard to Sunday trading was defeated in the House of Commons in March 2016 and the government indicated that it had no intention to reintroduce the measure.