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Government to be lobbied over second Sunday trading pilot

The New West End Company (NWEC) is set to lobby the Government to secure a second pilot scheme for Sunday trading following the initial pilot that took place during the Olympics.

NWEC was instrumental in the temporary relaxation of trading laws over the eight weeks of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012.

The move is also thought to be supported by the British Council of Shopping Centres, which has conducted its own research in favour of the move in the past year, and retailers including Selfridges. Other individuals who have come out in favour of changes in the past include Next chief executive Lord Wolfson.

Although a permanent change to Sunday trading laws was ruled out by the Government following the 2012 trial, the lobby group is calling for a second pilot to run during “a more normal trading period”, according to a well-placed source.

Retailers argue they are missing out on real opportunities to attract more shoppers - notably tourists, particularly those hailing from the Middle East. It is believed that NWEC met with the Treasury last year and was told that any change would have to be “retailer-driven”.

No accurate figure has been put on how much is lost by the restrictions, which state that shops with more than 3,000 sq ft can trade for a maximum of six hours continuously between 10am and 6pm on Sundays.

The source said: “[NWEC] believes there is a real loss because of these laws. They are losing turnover - it’s a case of can’t shop, won’t shop. The issue is whether that will hold elsewhere in the country because there are a lot of unique characteristics in London that don’t apply elsewhere.”

A spokeswoman for NWEC said the group was conducting analysis into the economic impact of the move - which would focus on London, in terms of growth and jobs - and confirmed it had been in “constructive discussions” with retailers and the Government.

Paul Kelly, group managing director of Selfridges, said he would support the pilot scheme in principle but he said “just getting on with it” was more important. He added: “The current system is not fit for purpose. You can shop online 24/7, and when you look at other cities in the world it’s just about catching up to expectations of where the customer is today.”

There has been renewed political will - particularly from Conservative MP Philip Davies, who also chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Retail Group - for a change to the laws.

However, a spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which approved the original pilot, told Drapers nothing was likely to happen soon. “There are no current plans to change the existing legislation,” he said.

Readers' comments (2)

  • Not sure where the 918 sq ft comes from. The 1994 act affects shops over 280 sq m (3,000 sq ft).

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  • Apologies. We have corrected the measurement.

  • Do retailers seriously think that they will be better off by opening longer on Sundays - if the opportunity comes their way?

    All they would be doing is spreading the same spending amount over a longer period, resulting in a net loss. The argument regarding the internet is irrelevant - that is what it is there for. On that principal, shops would be open 24/7 if that were the case.

    Retailers still have a lot to learn, as they can only see turnover, when business is all about profit.

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