The government has launched a six-week consultation on its proposals to relax Sunday trading regulations by giving local authorities the power to allow stores to open for longer.
The consultation, which will run until September 16, is proposing to either devolve power to “locals, for example metro mayors, through ‘devolution deals’” and/or to “devolving powers to local authorities more generally across England and Wales”.
It would give local authorities the power to allow certain parts of their areas to trade for longer, allowing them to boost trade in town centres or high streets.
“This government is determined to devolve powers previously held in Whitehall to local people,” said communities minister Brandon Lewis. “That’s why we want to give local leaders the power to decide whether Sunday trading is right for their area and to give retailers the option to stay open for longer.”
Business minister Anna Soubry said: “Modern Sunday trading laws have the potential to create thousands of jobs and help British businesses to thrive. [This] consultation gives businesses, shoppers and interested parties the chance to have their say on Sunday trading.”
The government said the consultation would help bricks-and-mortar retailers compete with online businesses and keep the UK in line with international locations like Paris, Dubai and New York.
The consultation asks:
- Should local areas have the power to extend trading hours on Sundays?
- If the power is devolved, who do you think should have the power to change Sunday trading rules?
- How would you be impacted by local changes to Sunday trading rules?
The British Council of Shopping Centres (BCSC) said it supports the relaxation of the laws, which could “unlock sizeable benefits for local shoppers, communities and retailers”.
According to its own monthly footfall data, the number of shoppers increases outside of office hours so it concludes that more flexible Sunday trading regulations will strengthen and drive trade in town centres.