Friday, 7 September 2012

Sunday Trading Post Olympiad

I found myself pondering the issue of Sunday trading this morning thanks to BBC Breakfast. With that in mind, laid about below are a few of my thoughts and observations on the subject.

The news story I watched made the point that the current extension of opening hours, as an experiment, wasn't complete yet. To  my mind there is a further issue. I haven't observed any reaction from local public transport providers to the extension in opening hours, meaning the number of additional shoppers has probably been restricted. If there is to be an experiment in extending opening hours then it needs to be coupled with changes to public transport to facilitate access to town centres.

One of the guests on the programme suggested that it should be up to the public to decide when they wish to shop. Despite the fact that the individual had a vested interest in saying this, I totally agree. I am not an atheist and have no real axe to grind with religion, but I do not think religion should have explicit say in how this country is governed, or when we can shop. I also question whether it is likely that potential church attendees will be prevented from attending by the chance to visit their local supermarket. No BOGOF deal in the world is so good that it would have people rushing from church, even if they wanted to be there.

The small business owner on the programme suggested we should retain Sunday trading laws as small businesses will suffer due to unfair competition. He was right that small businesses are unfairly treated in our high streets but, for me, he had the solution wrong. It seems to me that high rental prices, overheads and wholesale costs are the issue here. Therefore, it would seem to me, that these are what need to be tackled to help small businesses survive and grow. I've also noticed that many local small businesses are closed on Sundays and so wouldn't be negatively effected in any way by large companies trading.

My suggestion on the subject of Sunday trading is this. Firstly, let's do some proper research into Sunday trading by finding out if the public want it and then, if they do, experimenting throughout one or two district council areas in partnership with local public transport providers. Secondly, if that works, in the sense that companies wish to continue to remain open and footfall is good, then lets go national with it. Thirdly, let's tackle the real issues that are preventing small businesses from competing, rather than simply hoping we can prevent big companies from attempting to muscle in.

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