Corner shops and Keep Sunday Special attack Sunday trading

Research conducted for the Association of Convenience Stores by independent think tank the Social Market Foundation has found that the Government has failed to apply the family test to its plans to liberalise Sunday trading regulations.


The family test was introduced in 2014 by the Prime Minister, who launched guidance for departments to use when introducing new policies, with the intention being to "introduce an explicit family perspective to the policy making process".

In its assessment of the proposed Sunday trading deregulation plans against the questions set out in the family test, the Social Market Foundation raises the following issues:

  • People working in retail already have some of the highest rates of working overtime and weekend working. The proposals are likely to increase this further.
  • Only 25 per cent of parents are content with their work/home life balance, with 77 per cent reporting that work impinges on the time that they could dedicate to core activities with their children such as homework, taking them to clubs and putting them to bed.
  • Despite there being some legal protections in place to allow workers to opt out of working on Sundays, liberalising the trading hours will increase pressure on workers to do more hours.
  • Government’s own study from 2006 which sets out the benefits of longer Sunday trading hours suggests that the ‘greater convenience’ would save families just two minutes per week. 

Emran Mian, director of the Social Market Foundation, said: "The risks to family life posed by the Government’s proposed changes to Sunday trading regulations are significant. Retail is already a sector where staff are working atypical hours, and working for longer on Sundays will hurt families by stopping them from spending time together."

James Lowman, Association of Convenience Stores chief executive, said: "The impact of allowing large out of town stores to open whenever they like on Sundays will be devastating to both convenience stores and high streets. During the Government’s failed experiment on removing Sunday Trading laws for the Olympics in 2012, local shops lost up to 20% of their sales on Sundays while wider retail sales also fell between 0.2% and 0.4%. These plans have the potential to put thousands of small stores at risk."


James Bielby, Federation of Wholesale Distributors chief executive, said: "This proposal would divert business from small stores to larger ones, damaging local economies, reducing diversity in the retail estate and depriving communities of unique independent shops. There is no convincing economic case in favour of the change and a strong majority of the public are in favour of maintaining the current arrangement. The £30bn wholesale industry supports more than 1.1million jobs up and down the country. Changing the Sunday Trading rules would put these at risk."


The Government is considering plans to devolve the power to set Sunday trading hours to local authorities under proposals set out by the Chancellor in this year’s Budget. The consultation on these changes closes on 16 September.

 The full paper (Sunday Trading: Applying the Family Test) is available on the Association of Convenience Stores website here:

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