Shopworkers' trade union leader John Hannett has welcomed reports that the Government has put on hold their proposals to devolve Sunday trading regulations to local government.

WB&DTUC has written to the three Wolverhampton MPs requesting that should this issue re-arise they will oppose any changes to the Sunday Trading Act which could lead to increased opening times. Rob Marris has responded that he is in support of USDAW's campaign to keep things as they are.

John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary says: “Indications so far suggest that some retailers have struggled over the Christmas period with sales in shops, most have cited unusually warm weather as the main problem. So it is very concerning to hear suggestions that longer opening is the answer.

“The last thing retail needs at the moment is a race to the bottom, with 24-hour opening 7 days a week. For large retailers Sunday is the most profitable day of the week simply because their hours are restricted. Increase Sunday trading hours and overheads will rise significantly, with no guarantee of more revenue through the tills.

The race to open longer has been a folly and we are now seeing some larger retailers pulling back from 24-hour trading Monday to Saturday. Small retailers are currently free to open any hours they like and changing the law for large retailers will see small businesses lose that slight competitive advantage.

If the Government and local councils are serious about helping high street retailers, particularly smaller enterprises, they should be addressing crucial issues like expensive rents for retail space, burdensome business rates and excessive parking charges that drive customers away from town centres to out-of-town retail outlets where parking tends to be free of charge.

The Sunday Trading Act is a great British compromise, which has worked well for over 20 years and gives everyone a little bit of what they want. Retailers can trade, customers can shop, staff can work; whilst Sunday remains a special day, different to other days, and shopworkers can spend some time with their family.”

 

John Hannett – USDAW General Secretary said: “ we called for the Government to step back from their proposed changes to Sunday trading and we are delighted that they have listened. I think it became clear through the consultation and since that there is no appetite for changes on Sunday trading from shopworkers, retailers, shoppers, MPs and wider society.

 “The Prime Minister was right when he said before the election that he believes that the current system provides a reasonable balance between those who wish to see more opportunities to shop in large stores on a Sunday, and those who would like to see further restrictions. So I hope this matter can now be considered settled.

 “Shopworkers already work long hours at weekends, with over half working every Saturday and three quarters having to work some Sundays. The shorter hours of Sunday opening give many families the only guaranteed time they can spend together on a Sunday evening. 58% of staff in large stores are already under pressure to work on Sundays when they don’t want to. In fact, 35% want to work less on Sundays and only 6% want extra hours, so it is not surprising that over 90% of shopworkers oppose any extension of Sunday opening, which would have a devastating effect on them and their families.”

 “The Sunday Trading Act is a great British compromise, which has worked well for over 20 years and gives everyone a little bit of what they want. Retailers can trade, customers can shop, staff can work; whilst Sunday remains a special day, different to other days, and shopworkers can spend some time with their family.”

 

The shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw  lobbied MPs 16 October 2015 to oppose the Government’s proposal to devolve Sunday trading regulations. The matter was the subject of a Government consultation, which closed a month ago. 

 Usdaw members from across the country will be meeting with MPs to explain how extended opening in large stores will lead to even more retail staff being pressured into working longer hours on Sundays, which is why over 90% of shopworkers oppose any extension to Sunday trading hours.

 

John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary said: “Devolving Sunday trading is deregulation by the back door and will create chaos in the retail sector, as every area adopts their own regime. It doesn’t provide local authorities with proper powers to influence their retail economy, just a huge headache as a few retailers badger them to allow longer opening.

 “For this reason we believe that many retailers and local authorities have responded negatively to the consultation, or at least said that these proposals are not what they are looking for from Government. We fear that devolution is a solution looking for a problem.

 “It is not yet clear if the Government will proceed to legislation, but if they do I hope that they will abide by their promise of a full consultation and parliamentary process. That would mean full disclosure of consultation responses and a considered response from the Government, demonstrating that they have listened, before the introduction of any legislation to change Sunday trading.

 “The Sunday Trading Act is a great British compromise, which has worked well for over 20 years and gives everyone a little bit of what they want. Retailers can trade, customers can shop, staff can work; whilst Sunday remains a special day, different to other days, and shopworkers can spend some time with their family.”

  

Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fourth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with nearly 440,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 17% in the last five years and by nearly a third in the last decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the Union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.

 

For further information please contact Usdaw’s Media Officer, David Williams on: 0161 249 2469,

07798 696 603 or by e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter