Enterprise

Written evidence submitted by the Mayor of London (ENT 67)

Enterprise Bill - Public Bill Committee

New Clause 21 & New Schedule 1: Extended Sunday opening hours and Sunday working

· The Mayor of London welcomes the Government’s New Clause 21 and New Schedule 1 on extended Sunday opening hours and Sunday working. He fully supports the Government’s intention to make the Mayor of London the Sunday trading authority for the Greater London area.

· Devolving Sunday trading powers to the Mayor of London would sit well with the Mayor’s existing city-level powers. Used correctly, extending trading hours could increase visitor spend and could make London an even more attractive visitor destination. These powers will help strengthen London government and promote economic development and growth.

· London is a global hub; a leading centre for business, talent and visitors, it vies for top-ranked positions with other global cities, such as New York and Hong Kong, in a number of city indices. The Mayor’s London Plan, as a reflection of this international profile, designates areas of the city that are recognised as existing or potential international centres (criteria for designation include international reputation, the existence of a wide range of high-order comparison goods and specialist shopping options, and excellent levels of public transport accessibility). As important destinations for national and overseas visitors, these centres benefit from significant levels of tourist spending on retail goods and services.

· However, despite London’s current success, we are not currently maximising international visitor spend in the face of increasing competition from competitor cities. Despite topping the Mastercard Index for Global Destination Cities in 2015, for example, Chinese tourists currently favour other destinations over London. Over five times as many Chinese tourists visit France as visit the UK, and Chinese people rate both Paris and New York as ‘more important’ than London when asked to comment on their perception of international cities.

· Maximising leisure tourism in London is an important economic development priority for the Mayor and one of the main objectives for London’s official promotional agency London & Partners. We consider that extending Sunday trading hours in areas of the city with a high number of international visitors could be an effective way of achieving this objective, and (in terms of Sunday trading hours) would bring London in line with Paris, New York, Dubai and Singapore amongst other competitor cities.

· GLA Economics has considered the research commissioned by New West End Company and produced by Volterra last year. The main findings of the research show that extending Sunday trading hours in the West End and Knightsbridge could result in gross extra sales of between £260m and £305m per annum and an additional 1,450 to 2,245 direct FTE jobs. This would represent a modest but positive contribution to jobs and growth in London.

· GLA Economics agrees with Volterra’s assessment that GVA could increase significantly if Sunday trading hours were extended in this area, as a result of the proportion of overseas shoppers – and amongst them the proportion of ‘big spenders’ - and the genuine additionality of their spending.

· London is a very large and varied city, with extremely different retail and high street characteristics in different areas. The evidence is less clear that any additional economic benefits would arise in other parts of the city where concentrations of international visitors are lower than in the designated areas of the London Plan. In these areas, GLA Economics considers that it is likely for the displacement of existing shoppers to occur, such that some stores (including those with larger formats in out-of-town locations) would gain turnover at the straight expense of others (including existing smaller format stores located within town centres). Seen in this narrow commercial light there would be no net gain from the purchases by domestic consumers, but the displacement impacts could have an adverse effect on the vitality and viability of town centres – a key concern of national planning policy and London Plan policy.

· In a broader economic assessment, it would be more difficult to predict the net effect of the behaviour change of domestic shoppers. Shoppers’ convenience and wellbeing might increase; that of residents, shop owners and shop workers might diminish. There might also be additional costs to local services, including transport and street cleaning. Overall it would be very difficult to envisage or monitor any significant net gain in economic terms.

· The Mayor is also aware that some retailers, particularly small and medium sized enterprises, and some employees may not welcome extensions to Sunday trading hours. He is also aware of concerns amongst some businesses about borough boundaries failing to reflect functional economic areas – and, indeed, in some cases, business premises themselves which can straddle borough boundaries.

Mayoral control

· For this reason, he considers it vital that any decision making powers about extending Sunday trading hours be devolved to the Mayor of London, with decisions to be made strategically in line with other pan-London strategies, specifically the London Plan and the Economic Development Strategy, and only in cases where economic additionality can be proven to outweigh other costs and concerns.

· All decisions to extend Sunday trading hours should also be based on evidence and be subject to the appropriate consultation.

February 2016

 

Prepared 23rd February 2016