NFRN members have expressed their concern that changes to Sunday trading laws, announced in Chancellor George Osborne’s second budget of 2015, will cause chaos for consumers and damage the independent retail trade.
Currently shops over 3,015 sq ft are banned from trading for longer than six hours on a Sunday. Yet, under new plans revealed by the government, major towns and cities will be given the power to remove Sunday trading regulations if they think longer trading hours would boost local economic activity.
NFRN National President Ralph Patel commented: “By giving local councils powers over Sunday trading regulations we are deeply concerned that changes will be made despite there being no evidence that longer trade hours are needed or desired in local areas.”
The NFRN believes this proposal to relaxing Sunday trading laws will not only unfairly harm independent retailers’ trade, as trade will merely shift from small shops to large multiple out of town retailers, but also that the devolved approach will cause even more damage to high streets by confusing consumers with inconsistent opening hours.
NFRN chief executive Paul Baxter added: “These changes are being justified as an attempt to even the playing field between retailers and online shopping, yet all it will do is harm the trade of independent retailers as consumers will choose to visit those stores that do not charge for parking and are more accessible than the high street.”
Concern has also been expressed by Federation members about the effect a change in opening hours will have on shop workers.
Patel commented: “Our members are family run, community businesses that recognise the importance of Sunday’s as a special day. By increasing opening hours workers will be disadvantaged, particularly as Sunday premiums will be withdrawn.
“The current regulations were a good comprise so we urge the government to reconsider their plans before more harm is caused to small businesses.”