Gifts Today magazine

Independents 'could lose out with new trading hours'

In the Budget, George Osborne, the Chancellor, announced plans to extend Sunday trading hours for retailers in the UK, but according to a top accountant, independent retailers in particular stand to lose out as customers choose to continue their custom elsewhere.

Mr Osborne announced today that retailers, with physical stores of more than 3,000 square feet, are now freed from laws which prevent them from trading more than six hours on a Sunday. But independent stores and online shops were always free from those laws, meaning that smaller retailers could struggle as the larger stores can now enter the playing field.

Once shops closed early on a Sunday, people were only left with the option of shopping at their local convenience stores which can be pricier than their larger retail counterparts – the price of convenience. Not only do these smaller retailers stand to lose out to the competition as their customers continue to shop for cheaper prices, this could see the market shift back away from smaller retailers who in recent years have preferred to shop more locally at their convenience.

Phil Mullis, the Head of Retail and Wholesale at Top 20 accountancy firm, Wilkins Kennedy, said: “Small scale shops are leading growth on the high street, experiencing an 8.1% rise in sales since 2013, compared to a 2.6% rise from larger retail businesses as people’s shopping habits change. No longer are the extensive warehouse-style supermarkets catering for the time-poor shopper that needs to nip in for a quick meal after work or evensong.

“The trading hours could create a U-turn in shopper behaviour as consumers choose to shop for longer at the larger stores to benefit from lower prices over the independent convenience stores.

“The truth is, consumers can only consume so much – will we spend more because the stores are open for longer? It’s unlikely, but the chances are the independent stores will stand to lose out in the longer term.”


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