The high street is battling the internet with “one hand behind its back” because of restrictive Sunday trading rules, MP Philip Davies has said.
Davies believes relaxing Sunday trading hours could help struggling high streets compete against the growth of online shopping.
“The high street is battling the internet with one hand behind its back,” he told Retail Week.
“Sunday is a key day when people are off work to do their shopping. But when they go out to do their shopping the shops are closed. Yet you can order off Waitrose and get goods delivered any day you like.”
Davies, the vice-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Retail Group, wants to amend the Deregulation Bill to relax Sunday trading hours. At present stores over 3,000 sq ft can only trade for six hours.
He said he is also mulling an amendment that would devolve the decision-making to local authorities, which he believes might make it a “more palatable” option for the “anti-business Labour” and the “religious right conservative” who he is concerned may combine forces to defeat the measures.
Davies believes that the relaxed hours would help boost the economy and create more jobs. Davies expects the amendments to be tabled for debate in the House of Commons for May or June.
Sunday hours were relaxed across an eight week period during the Olympic Games in 2012 but the decision split opinion among retailers. Some of those against it believed it would not result in incremental sales but spread sales across a longer week, while also adding cost to the buiness due to extra hours worked.
Davies insisted supermarkets must have recorded a sales uplift when Sunday hours were relaxed over the Olympics. “How can the supermarkets say sales didn’t go up?” he said.