Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about Sunday trading and the coronavirus pandemic. I agree with you on this important issue. Relaxing Sunday trading laws is unnecessary and unlikely to provide the boost our economy needs.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the UK, we have seen how important our retailers and shopworkers are both in keeping our economy moving and ensuring people can get vital food and supplies. It is therefore worrying that the Government was reported to be considering unwelcome changes to Sunday trading laws.
Supporting the economy while we emerge from the coronavirus crisis is vital, but deregulation of Sunday trading hours is not needed and is a potentially damaging move. Loosening regulations on Sunday trading would put great pressure on retail workers who have done so much to support the country through this emergency. Many retailers are still struggling with staffing levels through enforced absences as a result of the necessary measures taken to combat the spread of COVID-19 – extending opening hours would put even more strain on workers.
In addition, small shops and our high streets would be hit hardest by these plans, putting their future viability in peril. The current long-standing arrangements have worked well for years, and it is unclear what benefits deregulation would deliver or who it would help.
We must support our economy and tackle the effects this crisis has had on it. I will continue to support efforts to do so. However, I do not believe allowing large shops to open for longer on Sundays is the right way to go about this. It is therefore welcome that the Government did not include plans to deregulate trading hours in the Business and Planning Bill. It should now focus instead on supporting our high streets where businesses face uncertainty far into the future. It should also use this opportunity to support retail workers further in return for the crucial efforts they have made in recent months, not enforce misguided changes that will simply put them under even greater pressure.