Business development Fred Heritage · 11 February 2016
Sunday trading laws: Devolved powers to extend opening hours due in autumn
In an attempt to counter the might of online retailers, the government has announced changes to the Enterprise Bill that will hand power back to Britain’s high streets by giving local councils the right to extend Sunday opening hours. Set to be introduced in autumn 2015, amendments to the Bill will give local retailers the flexibility to seasonally adjust store opening hours to enable them to compete more effectively for custom. The measure comes as part of the government’s wider plan to hand the power to change Sunday trading laws back to local authorities. In the run-up to Christmas last year, the government reported that internet retailers accounted for 13.8 per cent of all retail spending. It is hoped the new measures will go some way to reversing the trend. In a statement, business minister Anna Soubry said: Extending Sunday shopping hours has the potential to help small businesses and high streets better compete as people’s shopping habits change. Seasonally varying Sunday trading hours may also mean high streets can make the most of the increased tourism opportunities currently enjoyed by countries that have already introduced the measure. According to the tourist authority Visit Britain, Sweden’s local retailers have seen turnover increase by five per cent since full deregulation. this is part of apackage of measures allowing councils to zone? any relaxation to Sunday trading law to be able to prioritise high streets and city centres, added Soubry. The measures also look to empower shop workers in England, Scotland and Wales with greater freedoms. Employees will be able to opt-out? of working on Sundays if they choose to, due to family commitments or on religious grounds, and will have the option to choose not to work overtime on a Sunday.
ABOUT THE EXPERTFred Heritage
Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.