Sunday Trading consultation for Greenwich

Greenwich councillors have agreed to hold a consultation into the possibility of relaxing Sunday Trading restrictions in the borough, following the Chancellor George Osborne’s announcement of new powers for local authorities in the Summer Budget.

Since the 1994 Sunday Trading Act, retailers have been allowed to open on Sundays, with restrictions on larger stores such as supermarkets. Stores over 3,000 square feet can currently only trade for up to six hours between the hours of 10am and 6pm.

The Government has now announced it intends to devolve powers to relax these restrictions to local areas. The move follows a temporary removal of the restriction during the London Olympics, which saw retail sales grow 3.2 per cent.

The proposal for Greenwich Council to conduct research into the case for and against longer Sunday opening in Greenwich was tabled at July’s Town Hall council meeting by opposition Conservative Leader Matt Hartley – and secured cross-party backing from both Labour and Conservative councillors. 

Under the plan, the Council will conduct or commission research into the economic case for full relaxation, partial relaxation and the status quo.  Small businesses, residents and trade unions will be consulted over the proposals.

Councillor Matt Hartley, Group Leader of Greenwich Conservatives, said: “Sunday trading restrictions stretch back 1,700 years to the time of Emperor Constantine – and it has been 20 years since the last public debate on what the law should be.  A lot has changed in that time.

“With powers soon to be devolved to the local level, Greenwich Council must come to an informed and early decision based on what is best for our borough.  There are strong arguments on both sides and we need to be guided by the evidence.  Crucially, we must ensure small businesses in particular are consulted properly so that their views can be taken into account.

“I am pleased that both parties have agreed to this proposal and look forward to taking part in the debate on this important issue as it unfolds.”

Supporters of relaxation argues that shopping habits have changed, and that longer trading hours will create new jobs and economic growth – while opponents have voiced concerns over the rights of retail workers, the impact of small businesses and the effect on family time.

If you have any views on the issue, please get in touch or contact your local councillor.