How will Sunday trading laws affect small businesses? » SMEInsider

How will Sunday trading laws affect small businesses?

On 8th July, George Osborne will decentralise government power concerning Sunday trading laws, allowing local councils to decide whether  to extend trading hours in their local areas on Sundays.

Currently, businesses that operate in a space no bigger than 280 square meters can trade for as long as they desire on Sundays. Any retailers with larger spaces are restricted to six hours of trading.

Business Minister Anna Soubry has already given her verdict on the government’s proposals. The conservative MP is in favour of extending trading hours; with the minister hitting back at critics who want large stores to be remain closed on Sundays, a law that was enforced in the UK up until 1994.

‘‘The only thing to look forward to was Sing Something Simple on the radio and, I mean, goodness me, if that didn’t sum up a miserable Sunday,’’ claimed the former Defence Minister.

‘‘I think we’re harking back to a world that probably didn’t exist. And now Sundays are a great day – you have family life but you can still have shopping,’’ continued Soubry.

How could Sunday trading laws affect small businesses:

SMEs window of opportunity will disappear

Sunday is the only day of the week in which small businesses have longer trading hours than a larger firm. If large businesses can be open for longer on Sundays, then the chances are that SMEs will lose out on valuable profit.

Weekend traditions will be lost

Sunday is known by many as a traditional family day. Small businesses may be forced to stay open for longer in order to compete with larger retailers, which would take business owners away from their families.

The cost of operating your business will increase

If SME’s decide to extend its Sunday trading hours, business owners will have to pay more wages to their employees, as well as bigger operation costs, including gas and electricity.

So what does the SME community think of the government’s plans to increase Sunday trading hours?

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has already condemned the government’s proposals, claiming that the changes would ultimately be ineffective, disrupting the livelihood of small business owners.

ACS chief executive James Lowman feels that Sunday trading hours don’t need to be adjusted, asserting that the existing trading hours allow small business owners to successfully balance their work and home lives.

‘‘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.’’

ACS research provides an argument against extending Sunday trading hours. Conducted in February, 76 per cent of the general public support existing Sunday trading regulations, with 60 per cent of supporters calling for more restrictions on trading times.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) feels that if Sunday trading times were increased, then small businesses and local governments would have to communicate more with each other.

‘‘It is critical these local decision makers include small businesses in the debate. Local businesses are at the heart of our communities and the ones most likely to feel the direct impact of these proposals. Their concerns should be listened to, before any decision is made,” said John Allan, national chairman, FSB.