Government’s Sunday trading numbers don’t add up, says FWD

The Government’s response to its consultation on the devolution of Sunday opening hours ignores the views of wholesalers, small shops, shop workers and the majority of shoppers, the FWD said this week.

In a document released on Tuesday (February 9), the Department of Business, Skills and Industry concludes that the majority of local authorities and large retail businesses favour the relaxation of current limits on Sunday hours for larger stores, but it ignores the opposition of most respondents.

FWD Chief Executive James Bielby said: “The Government’s analysis does not adequately represent the majority of the 7,000 respondents, many of them small businesses which will lose trade as a result of the changes. Instead, it has drawn its conclusions from a minority of responses from local authorities and large retailers, the groups who stand to gain most from devolution. The broad and deep coalition against any change has been airbrushed from the consultation response.

“The Department for Business cites evidence from Sweden, where deregulation has seen a 5% increase in turnover. However, Sunday trading was liberalised in Sweden in 1972. This is desperate stuff, and shows that Ministers are forging ahead with an unpopular intervention using risible evidence to support their case.

“With our partners in the Keep Sunday Special coalition, we will be putting pressure on MPs to stand up for the smaller stores in the constituencies and all those whose wishes have been swept aside in this unbalanced response.  We will encourage them to reject the amendment to the Enterprise Bill when it is tabled.”

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