ACS condemns “shambolic” government response to Sunday Trading consultation

09 February, 2016

The government’s official response to its consultation exercise on Sunday Trading, published today, has been angrily dismissed by the Association of Convenience Stores.

In a statement, the ACS described the summary provided by the Department of Business of the over 7,000 comments received as “a 12-page advocacy for liberalisation”.

In its press release this morning, the government cited statistics that show a similar proposal in Sweden to have increased turnover by 5%.

However, as the ACS has pointed out, the data which the government is using to support its case dates from 1972 to 1989.

James Lowman, chief executive of the ACS, said: “The government is attempting to hoodwink the rest of Parliament into accepting these proposals by publishing only the parts of the consultation response that suit its agenda.

“The voice of thousands of businesses, communities, shop workers and other organisations has been ignored. For the government to use figures from the 1970s to justify its decision on Sunday Trading is frankly embarrassing.

“The Government’s message on Sunday trading has become so confused that it is barely recognisable.

“They claim that Sunday trading rules need to change to meet the needs of modern consumers, and yet quote decades old figures.

“They claim that Sunday trading changes will help high streets compete with online retail, but not one consumer or company polled this year has claimed that Sunday trading hours are a factor in the popularity of online shopping.

“They claim that this is what people want, despite several surveys showing that the majority of the public like the rules just the way they are.

“These ill thought out, badly executed and potentially devastating plans must be dropped.”

Last week the government moved to introduce the Sunday Trading amendment to the Enterprise Bill, currently before Parliament, at committee stage.

The move will avoid a debate on the floor of the house, where there is cross-bench oppposition to the government’s policy, which did not feature in the Conservative manifesto at the last election.

The Association of Convenience Stores is campaigning against the government’s proposals, which is believes will damage the economy and devastate small shops.

“Parliament must reject this amendment being snuck into the late stages of the Enterprise Bill,” Lowman said.

The government’s plans will devolve the decision on Sunday Trading hours to local government.

The plans represent a u-turn on the government’s position earlier in the year.

David Cameron’s office wrote to the Keep Sunday Special campaign in April last year to confirm the government had no plans to change the Sunday Trading laws.

“We believe that the current system provides a reasonable balance,” the letter said.

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