The government's consultation on removing the existing, popular Sunday trading regulations contains a number of figures that have been used to justify the change. However, there are significant flaws with the way that these figures have been used.
Claim: The majority of responses to the consultation were in favour of changing Sunday Trading regulations
The Government's consultation response does not state how many of the 7,000+ responses to the consultation were for or against the measures.
The consutlation response states the following: "The majority of large and medium sized business respondents and local government respondents were in favour of devolving powers to extend Sunday trading hours. Of this group, 76% felt that the powers should be devolved to local authorities (this included over 60 respondents from local authorities and local government organisations)."
All we are able to deduce from this is that from a subsection of the respondents (which doesn't include consumers, shopworkers or small businesses), a majority of the large businesses and local government responses were in favour, and of that sub group, three quarters were in favour of devolution. It is highly likely that given the way the data has been presented, most of the responses to the consultation were actually against change.
Claim: Extending Sunday trading hours will allow high streets to compete with online shopping
- Consumer polling from Populus shows that not a single consumer has identified Sunday trading laws as a reason why they shopped online instead of on the high street
Claim: Sunday trading will give families more time to shop together
- The Social Market Foundation has shown that Sunday trading proposals fail the Prime Minister's own 'family test'
- Only 25% of parents are content with the balance between work and home life and 77% report that work impinges on the time they could dedicate to core activities with their children
Claim: Devolving Sunday trading will allow retail workers to earn more money by working longer hours
- Research by USDAW shows that 91% of retail staff are against changes to current Sunday trading laws
- 58% of shop workers in large stores are already under pressure to work Sundays
- Shop workers will have less time to spend with their families, struggle to care for elderly relatives and have difficulty in making childcare arrangements
Claim: Sunday Trading will create new jobs because stores will open for longer
- Research from Oxford Economics showed that 8,800 jobs would be lost in the convenience sector as a result of Sunday trading changes
- The net result of removing Sunday trading regulations would be a loss of 3,270 jobs in the wider grocery sector according to Oxford Economics
Claim: Extending Sunday trading hours across England and Wales has been estimated to result in benefits equivalent to £1.4 billion per year (Source).
- The £1.4 billion figure is from a 2006 report when the retail market was significantly different
- The £1.4 billion figure is not just increased trade, it also includes cost savings for supermarkets by paying shop workers less through the removal of Sunday pay premiums
Claim: Spend on non-durable retail products, such as food, rose by up to 12.5% following deregulation (Source)
- The research rates the level of regulation on Sundays on a scale of 1 – 5 per country. The 12.5% increase references sales increases from some countries potentially moving from more than 1 level on this 5 point scale), which, as the authors say “might bias upwards any evidence of the impact of Sunday regulation changes”
- England and Wales currently has a rate of 2 on the scale for Sunday trading hours in the report and can only move down 1 point. Potential sales increases are actually estimated at 0.14%
- The Centre for Economic Performance themselves question their own results, stating: “Is this increase a genuine new expenditure or simply a re-direction from other segments?”
Claim: 15% of individuals would shop later on a Sunday at a supermarket (Source)
- The 2005 ONS report asks consumers if they would change shopping habits if Sunday trading was removed. 77% said there would be no change in their behaviour.
- ComRes polling from February this year stated that 76% of consumers are in favour of current Sunday Trading regulations
Claim: 450,000 foreign tourists stayed in London during the Games and there were a further 5.5 million day visitors (Source)
- Foreign tourists were in London for the Olympics, not because Sunday trading laws were removed
- The Government continue to quote unpublished New West End Company jobs and sales claims data in press releases but have not included these in their consultation
- Retail sales actually declined during the Olympics by 0.4% according to BRC/KPMG figures