The government is giving you the power to decide whether large businesses can stay open for longer on Sundays, a change that could harm the sustainability of smaller high street shops.
On 5th August, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) released a consultation document entitled ‘Devolving Sunday trading rules’.
The document was also released by the Department for Communities and Local Government, Brandon Lewis MP and Anna Soubry MP, minister for small businesses.
BIS asks for the general public to give their opinion on whether Sunday trading rules should be devolved to local areas, allowing stores with a relevant floor area of over 280 square metres / 3000 square feet to be open for longer. Currently SMEs with a space beneath this number are allowed to stay open for later.
Find out how the Sunday trading law changes could affect your SME here.
The existing Sunday trading laws were introduced more than 20 years ago before high-street shops faced competition from online retailers. The law currently prevents large stores from opening for more than 6 hours.
The reforms would give metro mayors and local authorities the power to determine Sunday trading rules that reflect the needs of local people and allow shops and high streets to stay open longer and compete with online retailers.
Business Minister Anna Soubry said:
”Modern Sunday trading laws have the potential to create thousands of jobs across the country and help British businesses to thrive. Today’s (5 August 2015) consultation gives business, shoppers and interested groups the chance to have their say on Sunday trading.”
Local authorities would then have the power to decide which part of their local authority area would benefit from the longer hours, allowing them to boost town centres and high streets.
The government states that any rule changes will not change trading hours on Christmas Day or Easter Sunday.
Communities Minister Brandon Lewis is determined to push through the Sunday trading changes:
‘‘This government is determined to devolve powers previously held in Whitehall to local people. That’s why we want to give local leaders the power to decide whether Sunday trading is right for their area, and to give their retailers the option to stay open for longer.’’
This decision by the government could be in response to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) who previously stated that small businesses and local governments would have to communicate more with each other if these rules went ahead.
‘‘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.