Should Sunday trading laws be permanently relaxed in Croydon?
THE Government’s decision to relax Sunday trading laws for this summer’s Olympics and Paralympics was hailed as a way to stimulate the economy. But with increasing pressures from the retail industry to make the situation permanent, Steven Freeman asks whether added convenience would really be a good thing...
TESCO'S at Purley Cross has often been accused of killing a once bustling high street.
And while the hypermarket sells most things the local independents stock – often at cheaper prices – its dominance is at least curbed once a week by Sunday trading laws.
But if the retail lobby has its way this may not be the case for much longer – as a relaxation brought in during the Olympics becomes the norm.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
Under current legislation, stores in England and Wales measuring more than 280 square metres can open for a maximum of six hours between 10am and 6pm on Sundays.
However, during the Olympics, shops could open later than 6pm - and many are lobbying for this change to be made permanent.
Amanda Davis, chairman of Coulsdon Business Partnership and owner of iWoman Boutique, believes the Government used the Olympics as an excuse to trial the scheme.
She said: "The measures, if they become permanent, will harm smaller businesses, because people will go to bigger shops where there is a level of choice which small businesses simply cannot compete against."
Sunny Patel, 25, owner of Good News in Brighton Road, said he would definitely be out of pocket.
He said: "We get a lot of sales after 5pm and 6pm on a Sunday and it would kill me and kill the Sunday trade.
"It's fine for Tesco, they already get to open as long as they want six days a week. I know it's good for jobs but it kills local shops. What about the local traders?
"We can't pay the Government the way they can but it's time a few rules were brought in that support us for a change."
But Asad Khan, from Smallworths in Selsdon, was more philosophical.
He said: "The issue presents a double-edged sword – for large businesses there will be benefits, but for smaller businesses it will be crippling.
"For the multibillion-pound corporations, if they are able to open for longer on Sundays they will put the local convenience stores out of business.
"In my opinion, people are not going to starve on a Sunday if their local supermarket is only open for six hours.
"I can see the objectives behind the plans from the Government's perspective, but I don't particularly agree with the idea.
"Although yes, giant corporations can provide the government with a lot of revenue, in terms of national insurance, taxes etc, if they do become ever more dominant than they already are, the smaller, independent businesses on the high street will be forced to close, creating ever more unemployment, so you are effectively giving in the one hand, and taking out of the other".
Despite facing a fight from small retailer industry, perhaps the supermarkets' biggest foe is likely to be the Christian lobby.
The vicar of Christ Church in Purley, the Reverend Charles Trefusis, said shopping on a Sunday made him feel uneasy.
He added: "As a Christian I'm concerned because Sunday should be kept as a special day.
"Personally I choose not to shop on a Sunday unless I really have to and if I do have to it always makes me feel uneasy.
"To keep Sunday as a day of rest is the right thing to do. Not doing so and extending trading hours is an attack on Christian Britain. It is eroding Christian heritage.
"Behind that, family life is damaged. I think communities can be harmed too."