Jonathan James is owner of James Gravens and Sons, based in Cambridgeshire. He is also Chairman of the Association of Convenience Stores.
Alex Deane’s piece against Sunday trading rules concerned me. As a retailer with six stores, two of which are restricted on a Sunday and four that are not, and as a Conservative, I think I am well placed to make a case for retaining Sunday trading laws based on pragmatism rather than ideology.
Alex’s argument is based on his premature conclusion that ‘the period will pass without terrible harm done to the retail sector.’ We all hope so, and the mood of national celebration and the good weather (at last) will hopefully lead to a sales boost, regardless of the relaxation of Sunday trading. Any conclusions on the impact on retail have to be much more carefully considered before making sweeping assumptions of the kind he does.
The decision to change the Sunday trading rules was a kneejerk decision based on the soundbite that ‘visitors should see that the UK is open for business’. It certainly wasn’t based on robust evidence, and Ministers admitted as much during the passage of the Sunday Trading (Olympics) Bill. Outside of a small number of retail operators based in and around Oxford Street and the Olympic Park there was little evidence of a clamour for extended hours during this 8 week time period.