Row brewing over Sunday trading laws

In the July 2015 budget, Chancellor George Osborne announced changes to the Sunday trading laws in England and Wales. Under current rules large shops are restricted to trading for no longer than six hours. A large shop is defined by one with relevant floor space of more than 280 square metres (about 3,000 square feet). Pharmacies, airport and railway station shops, motor or cycle supplies are exempt from this rule. Small shops are also allowed to trade all day.

A formal consultation on the proposals was opened in August - the government will devolve powers on Sunday trading to city mayors and local authorities which will allow them to extend Sunday trading for additional hours ‘within parameters that they would determine’. This will have far reaching consequences for larger stores in England and Wales. Tesco and Sainsbury’s are opposing the possible changes whilst Asda and Morrisons are in favour. A spokesman for Sainsbury’s said it considered the current rules ‘a sensible British compromise’ for firms of all sizes. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said it was ‘concerned about the impact of any change ‘on smaller retailers.

"Should it be decided by local government to increase Sunday trading hours there will be an economic benefit, enabling larger shops to compete with online retailers who are able to trade for 24 hours a day. However, smaller independent retailers are nervous of the proposed changes," says Commercial Partner Matthew Fretten. The Government will be consulting with retailers on the proposal which is expected to be passed with the Enterprise Bill this autumn.

Our Commercial team based in Christchurch also cover Bournemouth, Poole and the New Forest. For a free initial chat, please call 01202 499255 and Matthew or a member of the team will be happy to discuss any questions that you may have.