Sunday Trading Laws Discussion

Butts

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I disagree. Many more small stores would have closed over the last 25 years if Sunday trading was unrestricted in large stores.



In my experience most stores were open although to be fair many only opened until lunchtime.



It isn't all about religion. ALthough the church was a player in the Keep Sunday Special campaign they we by no means the only active participant.



Comparisons between Scotland and England are difficult in this area. Much of Scotland is very rural and there are fewer large stores in area like the HIghlands.
80% of the population live in the Central Belt so i don't see why a comparison is difficult.

There are large rural areas in England as well that have very few large Supermarkets.
 
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Butts

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If anything there are probably more smaller stores/shops now than 25 years ago due to the profileration of Tesco Express / Sainsburys Locals !!
 

Hadders

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If anything there are probably more smaller stores/shops now than 25 years ago due to the profileration of Tesco Express / Sainsburys Locals !!
There are more small stores operated by the multiple retailers but overall the number of stores has reduced significantly. I'll see if I can find the figures when I get a moment.
 

Tom B

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The express format shops have grown significantly in recent years (supposedly, it is them and dotcom which are the growth areas). Hence the exemption doesn't really 'protect' smaller retailers.

Scotland does things sensibly as usual. When I lived there, an ordinary sized supermarket would usually open 8-8 (shorter than, say, 6-10 as normal) whilst the large hypermarkets would remain 24h.
 

pitdiver

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I work in retailing for a large supermarket. We don't open for 24hrs and haven't done for months. Our hours are 0600-2200. Monday to Saturday Sunday 1000-1600. My wife works in the Convenience store version and her store does not open for 24 hrs either. Her hrs are 0600-2300 7 days per week.
 
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LAX54

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Interesting. Things may have changed since 2010 though. Looking at the graph on p4 it seems that people working 34 or fewer hours almost equal, or possibly exceed those on the traditional 40 hours. Also nothing specifically refers to the 9-5 which is assumed to be standard.

As an anecdotal example, I work 40 hours, over four ten hour days out of six.
Last time I went to Europe, except for the area around Calais, where they opened 'for the English trippers' most places in France, The Netherlands closed on Sundays, and it was not that long ago that Germany used to shut up shop on Saturday afternoon as well, I think the Netherlands still open late on a Monday, something like 11 oe 12.
 

Bald Rick

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Last time I went to Europe, except for the area around Calais, where they opened 'for the English trippers' most places in France, The Netherlands closed on Sundays, and it was not that long ago that Germany used to shut up shop on Saturday afternoon as well, I think the Netherlands still open late on a Monday, something like 11 oe 12.
France has been doing limited Sunday opening for a few years now, typically only the main supermarket chains though. I’ve been in various places some with, say, Leclerc advertising “Ouvert Dimanche-Matin” (this was in Lourdes, of all places!)
 

Mag_seven

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Sunday trading restrictions could be suspended for a year under government plans to kick-start the UK's coronavirus-ravaged economy.

Responding to the reports, Downing Street sources confirmed the laws are "being looked at", but did not give further details.
Sound like a good idea.
 

Mojo

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Not sure there'll be much appetitite from the big supermarkets for this.
Presumably because they stand to lose a killing from the higher prices charged at their convenience formats, by desperate people on Sunday evenings?
 

Yew

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Sounds like a good call to me, though I've generally been supportive of allowing Sunday trading anyway.
 

Hadders

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Presumably because they stand to lose a killing from the higher prices charged at their convenience formats, by desperate people on Sunday evenings?
Two of the big four supermarket operators don’t operate convenience stores...

Pre-Covid sales on large supermarkets have been struggling for a number of years. I cannot see a mass expansion of hours on a Sunday due to the cost of staffing. I could see some minor extension of hours, an hour or two but I doubt we’ll see hours matching the rest of the week.

There was an opportunity to extend hours in 2012 when there was a temporary relaxation for the Olympics. I thought this would end up becoming permanent but iirc none of the large store operators had any appetite for it.

A few years back 24 hour opening was all the rage but many stores have pulled back from it as it’s just not profitable, despite there being a physical staff presence in the stores 24 hours a day.
 

Starmill

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Presumably because they stand to lose a killing from the higher prices charged at their convenience formats, by desperate people on Sunday evenings?
If they were really worried about that they could invest in dynamic pricing by time of day, using electronic shelf edges. The cost of doing that must still be higher than any gains from charging higher prices, then.
 

route:oxford

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It's probably the right time for it in England.

There was chat about this on one of the breakfast shows in recent weeks with people fondly reminiscing about Sunday closures.

People seem to have forgotten about half-day Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays depending on where you live.

Then there were "Local Holidays" that every town took on around 4 Mondays a year, but you didn't know about them unless you were a local and you'd turn up in Stirling to do a bit of Shopping only to find the Thistle Centre was shut (obviously insert your own main town here).
 

LAX54

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It's probably the right time for it in England.

There was chat about this on one of the breakfast shows in recent weeks with people fondly reminiscing about Sunday closures.

People seem to have forgotten about half-day Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays depending on where you live.

Then there were "Local Holidays" that every town took on around 4 Mondays a year, but you didn't know about them unless you were a local and you'd turn up in Stirling to do a bit of Shopping only to find the Thistle Centre was shut (obviously insert your own main town here).
Brightlingsea (Essex) still has a half day closing :)
 

Bletchleyite

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Pre-Covid sales on large supermarkets have been struggling for a number of years. I cannot see a mass expansion of hours on a Sunday due to the cost of staffing. I could see some minor extension of hours, an hour or two but I doubt we’ll see hours matching the rest of the week.
To be honest 9am to 6pm would probably do the job. 10 is a slightly annoyingly late start if you want to get it over with so it doesn't clog up the day, and 4 is a bit early for the finish if you want to spend the day doing something else first.

Indeed, I'd take Saturday and Sunday 9-6 over Saturday early-10pm and Sunday 10-4. Evening opening is much more important on weekdays so you can go after work.
 

Bald Rick

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To be honest 9am to 6pm would probably do the job. 10 is a slightly annoyingly late start if you want to get it over with so it doesn't clog up the day, and 4 is a bit early for the finish if you want to spend the day doing something else first.

Indeed, I'd take Saturday and Sunday 9-6 over Saturday early-10pm and Sunday 10-4. Evening opening is much more important on weekdays so you can go after work.
Equally, evening opening on Saturdays is important for the not insignificant proportion of the population who work ‘regular hours’ on Saturdays.
 

Hadders

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I can't see any reduction in Saturday hours. I could see later closing on Sundays happening (e.g. 5pm or 6pm) but I can't really see any earlier opening being viable on a large scale.
 

Tom B

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Sundays are very busy in supermarkets, in part owing to the restricted hours, but tending to see a rush at the end of the day. Some extension may help spread the demand in a more even fashion.

If we look at Scotland, excluding the 24 hour hypermarkets, they tend to do a shorter day (say, 8am to 6pm).
 

Jamesrob637

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Sundays are very busy in supermarkets, in part owing to the restricted hours, but tending to see a rush at the end of the day. Some extension may help spread the demand in a more even fashion.

If we look at Scotland, excluding the 24 hour hypermarkets, they tend to do a shorter day (say, 8am to 6pm).
Or as I suggested upthread extend the sphere of opening hours, but not the length.
 

Bletchleyite

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Equally, evening opening on Saturdays is important for the not insignificant proportion of the population who work ‘regular hours’ on Saturdays.
True.

To be honest I'd just bin it off and let the shops decide. I'm really unconvinced that the length of the day makes a blind bit of difference in terms of making the day "special" - if you have to work 10-4 on a Sunday that's still knackered the day, just the same as if you worked any other full-time set of hours. It's only "special" if you keep everything closed.

If you wanted to provide for those who do want to keep the day special, you could legislate to ban companies forcing any member of staff from working on that day. They'd get enough volunteers if the pay was good enough. My Mum for instance (in a bank call centre) very often voluntarily did Sundays (double time), and even usually did Boxing Day (triple time plus time off in lieu). I know the railway has issues with Sunday volunteering, but the supermarket industry is not Unionised in the same way and is far more flexible on staffing levels, so you wouldn't get the situation like the railway where it's used as a form of unofficial "industrial action".
 

Hadders

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To be honest I'd just bin it off and let the shops decide.
The current arrangements are designed to provide some protection for small shops and independent retailers. There is a danger that if large shops open for longer hours that more smaller shops would be forced to close. Sunday is the biggest trading day for many small stores so there is a legitimate concern that they stand to lose significant business of larger shops open for longer hours.

If you wanted to provide for those who do want to keep the day special, you could legislate to ban companies forcing any member of staff from working on that day.
Retail staff have a right to opt out of Sunday working under the 1994 Act, although unless they are a Protected Employee (i.e. employed before the 1994 Act came into force) the employer does not have to reschedule their hours elsewhere in the week.

They'd get enough volunteers if the pay was good enough.
There has been a levelling down of pay over the years and it is unwise to rely on volunteers (as the railway proves). Most retailers only pay single time for the first 39 hours worked each week (regardless of which day the hours are worked on). Premium pay only applies if you work in excess of 39 hours. Management staff are typically salaried and receive no additional payment for Sunday working.
 

Bletchleyite

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The current arrangements are designed to provide some protection for small shops and independent retailers. There is a danger that if large shops open for longer hours that more smaller shops would be forced to close. Sunday is the biggest trading day for many small stores so there is a legitimate concern that they stand to lose significant business of larger shops open for longer hours.
I don't support this principle. Small food shops in particular have invariably in the past been rubbish, and have had protection on a Sunday as you note. The coming of the likes of Tesco Express have forced them to up their game, and now there are good reasons to "shop local". Fundamentally, the old fashioned corner shop with the Press, cigarettes (which is what really kept them going), a poor range of overpriced "Happy Shopper" tinned food, cans of Strongbow/Carling and if you're lucky some 3 week old rotting veg does not deserve to survive without upping its game so people will choose to shop there.

The franchise type operations like Nisa, Budgens and Spar do provide some assistance with adopting more of a supermarket-style model, but there's no reason why shops shouldn't do it independently, other than that, as you say, on a Sunday people have no choice so will put up with it.
 

Hadders

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A very interesting article from The Grocer magazine - the Sunday trading debate has resurfaced. Would relaxation really help?


The Sunday trading debate has resurfaced. Would relaxation really help?

A week from today, stores deemed as non-essential retail will be allowed to reopen in the UK for the first time since March. The move is seen as a pillar in the government’s plan to return our lives to some sense of normality and kickstart the post-lockdown economy.

This step should be seen as a cause for celebration but is likely to be overshadowed by the re-emergence of the age-old row over relaxing Sunday trading laws.

On Saturday, The Times reported that the government was considering waiving the current rules that restrict larger stores from opening for longer than six hours between 10am and 6pm on a Sunday. There were few details in the story, but it is understood it is one a number of measures likely to be put forward as part of a multibillon-pound stimulus plan that could be introduced from next month. The supposedly temporary relaxation would be for an initial period of one year.

If is understood the story was briefed by government but what isn’t clear is why. Some observers felt it was either trialled as one element of a potential sweeping Coronavirus Recovery Bill to bolster business confidence or, more likely, ministers were getting the story out there to gauge the strength of opposition to the proposal.
What is clear already is that opposition to this move is likely to be as fierce, if not more so, than ever before. Previous bids to change the status quo, which has been in place since 1994, have been faced down by the Keep Sunday Special campaign, a powerful alliance of shopworkers’ union Usdaw, the Association of Convenience Stores and, most crucially, the Church of England.

In these matters, Labour and its MPs tend to follow the union view that a relaxation would put further pressure on shopworkers and their families. The ACS can also play the support for small business card, but historically it has been the intervention of the Church of England that has swayed enough Tory members to rebel and thus defeat the idea.
This time, it looks as if Usdaw and the ACS will have the most powerful argument. A relaxation of the rules now would be a “kick in the teeth for the key workers and local shop owners that kept the nation fed and supported their communities throughout the worst of the coronavirus crisis thus far,” according to one industry source.

The sentiment was outlined in a letter sent to business secretary Alok Sharma by Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis this weekend.

“Usdaw members and their colleagues have been working throughout this crisis keeping the shelves in our supermarkets stocked,” wrote Lillis. “This move to deregulate Sunday trading hours would come across as an opportunistic use of the coronavirus crisis and a slap in the face for each and every worker in retail and the food supply chain. I would hope that the government would instead spend its time exploring how we can ensure that these low-paid key workers can get the level of pay and job security they deserve.”

While lobbying over the next few weeks will be key to whether the government pushes ahead with relaxation, there are still serious question marks over whether such a move would in fact provide a boost the economy, and whether retailers really want it.

There is an argument that the only retailers set to really benefit would be the big supermarkets, who are in the fortunate (and rare) position of not needing a shot in the arm right now. As ACS CEO James Lowman said, this would “serve only to displace trade from the local shops that have been keeping communities going during this pandemic”.

But for non-food retailers, is the ability to keep shops open for a few extra hours going to encourage shoppers to flood back to the high street and send tills ringing again? It seems unlikely.

The truth is we simply don’t know how shoppers are going to react when stores reopen in the coming weeks. How will social distancing work in clothing boutiques? Will shoppers want to go to stores where they can’t or shouldn’t touch or try out the stock? Will they queue in the rain?

While retailers are contending with all this, many shoppers have also grown far more accustomed to the ease of online shopping. Looking further ahead, the biggest threat to retail is likely to be the wider economic downturn. Widespread unemployment will have a far bigger impact on retail than derestricted opening hours one day a week.

When the coronavirus crisis first took hold, there were meetings between the major supermarkets and the government in which relaxing Sunday trading was touted as a potential way to ease the pressure on retailers struggling to keep shelves full and, thus, communities fed. However, these calls quickly abated as it became clear that retailers were actually better off cutting opening hours in order to replenish shelves and give their staff some much-needed respite.

It is by no means certain that non-food retailers would now wish to avail of longer opening hours. Staff and customer safety will be crucial to them and that all comes with extra costs, such as refitting stores to enable social distancing, employing marshals on the door to manage customer numbers, installing Perspex screens and extra cleaning. Retailers are more likely to cut hours, rather than open longer, particularly if footfall isn’t strong.

There are many ways the government can continue to support retail and hopefully boost the economy, but waiving Sunday trading seems about the least effective right now. Boris Johnson and his advisor Dominic Cummings are understood to have been long-term advocates for a change – but maybe now is the time wait and see if it is needed, or indeed wanted.
 

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