The boss of shopping centre landlord Intu has claimed the case for changing “out of date” Sunday trading hours is now “overwhelming”.
The firm’s chief executive David Fischel said he is already “pushing” local authorities to relax the laws if powers are devolved to them following an ongoing government consultation.
Chancellor George Osborne revealed plans to hand local councils and elected mayors responsibility for Sunday trading hours in their areas as part of this month’s summer Budget.
And Fischel said Intu is backing the move in a bid to end “unfairness amongst retailers.”
He told Retail Week: “Sunday trading legislation is vastly out of date in today’s multichannel world and creates unfairness amongst retailers. As such, we believe the case for deregulation is overwhelming.
“The internet is 24/7, so why are we forced to shut after six hours on a Sunday?”
David Fischel, Intu
“There are far more working families, working parents, working mothers than there were 20 years ago. The research we do tells us clearly that they all want the freedom to shop when it suits them.
“The internet is 24/7, so why are we forced to shut after six hours on a Sunday? We are kicking people out at 5pm when shoppers are happy to carry on. The customer is saying: ‘we want the freedom’.
“No one tells British Airways they’ve got to take their aeroplanes out of the sky after six hours on a Sunday – they don’t shut Heathrow down at 5pm in the afternoon. Why should our centres be any different?
“Over the years we’ve worked with retailers to determine shopping hours that everyone is comfortable with. We are always very mindful of what the shopper is telling us and here it’s quite clear – having to shove everyone out the door at 5pm on a Sunday is not a good idea.”
Fischel said that bricks-and-mortar retail spaces are continuing to thrive, despite the growth of ecommerce. Intu revealed in its interim results that retailer sales in its shopping centres – which include the Metrocentre, Lakeside and Manchester Arndale – were up 3.4% compared to the same six-month period last year.
“It’s becoming more obvious that the successful online retailers in many cases are also successful physical retailers,” Fischel added.
“One way to drive sales to the internet and vice versa is to have another shop.
“People are understanding that physical and online retailing are inextricably linked. Flagship stores in our prime destinations are still very important.”