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Sunday Trading Hours

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

There Is No Compelling Evidence To Support Changes To 1994 Sunday Trading Laws Says GMB

If changes are pushed through legal safeguards to give a genuine choice for retail workers are needed so that they can plan their work around their family and caring commitments says GMB.

GMB, the union for retail staff, responded to reports that shops could open for longer on Sundays under plans to be unveiled by Chancellor George Osborne when he delivers his Budget tomorrow ( July 8th). See notes to editors for copy of the story on Press Association.

Bob Crosby, lead GMB Organiser, said “GMB has not seen any compelling evidence to support the need for change to the 1994 Sunday Trading laws.

If changes are pushed through there needs to be legal safeguards to give a genuine choice for people working in retail so that they can plan their work around their family and caring commitments.

We have to face the fact that some employers will take advantage of the weak bargaining position of their staff and force them to work on Sunday.

For example earlier this year NEXT threatened to sack retail workers who refused to accept the withdrawal of premium pay for Sunday working that was introduced when shops were allowed to open on Sunday after 1994.

While looking to boost the retailers bottom line is no guarantee that money will trickle down to retail workers. These workers will soon be faced with the need to replace the income lost when the Chancellor announces cuts to child and working tax credit that will impact on many retail workers.

Changes to Sunday trading laws will impact on the supply chain. Behind all shops are workers in the distribution sector. They too will be affected by decision to extend opening hours.”

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Contact: Bob Crosby 07872 377 531 or Kamaljeet Jandu,  07956 237178 or Mick Rix  07971 268343 or Martin Smith  07974 251722 or GMB press office on 07921 289880 or 07974 251823.

Notes to editors

Story on Press Association

Osborne 'to relax Sunday trading'

By Joe Churcher, Press Association Chief Political Correspondent Tuesday July 7

Shops could open for longer on Sundays under plans to be unveiled by Chancellor George Osborne, when he delivers his first all-Conservative Budget tomorrow.

Mr Osborne will unveil proposals to give elected mayors and councils the freedom locally to relax laws which prevent larger stores opening their doors for more than six hours.

The Treasury pointed to research by the New West End Company which found two extra hours in the capital alone would create nearly 3,000 jobs and generate over £200 million a year in additional sales.

Mr Osborne said online shopping trends suggested there was a "growing appetite" for Sunday trading in high streets and retail parks, and a trial of longer hours during the London Olympics had proved a success.

But the move was condemned by the Association of Convenience Stores, which said it would force small shops out of business, had seen overall sales fall 0.4% during the Games and was unpopular with the public.

It said a poll in February found 76% of the public supported the existing rules with 60% of those wanting change actually preferring stricter, rather than looser, restrictions.

Sunday trading has long been a thorny issue, with pressure building to relax the 1994 Sunday Trading Act which allowed smaller shops to open all day but restricted those over 280 sq m / 3,000 sq ft to six hours between 10am and 6pm.

A review by the then Labour government in 2006 resulted in no change amid protests.

But the Treasury said Britain was out of step with international competitors - with Paris having recently relaxed its rules and New York imposing no controls.

Mr Osborne will present the proposed reforms - to be included in an Enterprise Bill in the autumn - as part of a push to devolve more powers from Whitehall.

"Even two decades on from the introduction of the Sunday Trading Act, it is clear that that there is still a growing appetite for shopping on a Sunday," he said.

'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."

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: "Giving local authorities the responsibility for setting Sunday trading hours will lead to inconsistency and confusion for businesses and shoppers.

"In areas where large stores' trading hours are extended, we will simply see the same amount of trade spread over more hours and shifting from small stores to large stores, as was the case when the laws were suspended for the 2012 London Olympics, when overall retail sales actually fell.

"Existing Sunday trading laws are a popular compromise that balance the needs of consumers, shopworkers, small stores and families.

"The short period of time that small stores are open while large stores are shut is a crucial advantage for convenience stores, most of which are owned by small businesses.

"Liberalising Sunday trading hours would make some small stores unviable."

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