WEST Midlands Mayor Andy Street says relaxing Sunday trading laws could have an ‘unfair’ impact on small stores that have been at the heart of local communities during the coronavirus pandemic.
The government is reportedly reviewing Sunday trading restrictions on large stores in England and Wales as part of a plan to kick-start the economy after lockdown.
However, Mr Street, who spent 30 years working in retail at John Lewis, says relaxing the current rules – which only allow supermarkets and other large shops to trade for six consecutive hours between 10am and 6pm in England and Wales – would damage local and community stores.
“The current Sunday trading laws work well for everyone, and there is no need to change them,” he said.
“More importantly, allowing large shops to extend their hours on Sundays would have an unfair impact on the small, local stores that have worked so hard to stay open and support their communities throughout the lockdown.
“These are the kind of local businesses that have organised deliveries to isolated residents, donated food to NHS workers and supported PPE drives.
“The region’s local shops have shown they are at the heart of their communities, so let’s respect their contribution by not changing the rules to their disadvantage.
“I can understand the Government looking for ways to boost the economy but I think it is only fair and reasonable that our smaller community stores continue to be protected by the Sunday trading rules as we have them at the moment.
“I hope that the Government will do the sensible thing and rethink this idea.”
The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), which represents 33,500 local shops on high streets and rural communities, has called on the government to shelve the plans to extend Sunday trading hours.
Under the new relaxed regulations – which would last for 12 months – larger supermarkets would be able to open for more than six hours on Sundays, while cafes and pubs may be get fast-tracked approval to serve food and drinks outside, which would omit the need for a 28-day minimum statutory consultation period.
After a visit from Mr Street, Paul Cheema, of Malcolm’s Store in Tile Hill, Coventry, said: “I think that for individual community store like us, Sunday trading regulations really do help. If these changes come in, it will be to the detriment of community stores everywhere.
“We are really scared by it and I think the Government need to just sit back and look at this.”