Enterprise

Further written evidence submitted by BCSC (ENT 71)

Enterprise Bill: Commons Committee Scrutiny NC21 BCSC briefing on Sunday trading

BCSC is the membership body for retail property. We represent around 450 companies and campaign for sustainable urban retail. Our members are major Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT) such as Westfield, Hammerson, Land Securities and intu, real estate fund managers including Aviva, Aberdeen, Hermes Investment Management and M&G Real Estate, asset managers including Ellandi and Hark Group, property consultants such as JLL, CBRE, Cushman & Wakefield and GVA and retailers such as John Lewis Partnership, Zara, Sainsbury’s and M&S. Our members are some of the most well known retail brands in the country and the most respected property companies in the world. Our mantra is to provide Great British Places for global, national and local retailers to trade from, and serve their customers’ ever evolving needs.

Summary

BCSC members are generally supportive of government’s proposal to change the way trading hours are regulated on Sundays. However, we do have one concern over the proposals to allow local decision makers to zone at a very granular level. We anticipate this will be done sensibly through local dialogue, but would rather the legislation allowed for the changes to apply across entire local authority boundaries. As set out in our consultation response last year we support the principle of more flexible trading hours for the following reasons;

1. Successful retailing is about meeting the needs of consumers. If people want to shop on a Sunday, and there is plenty of evidence from BCSC members on the popularity of Sunday as a trading day, then retailers of all sizes should be given the ability to meet those needs.

2. Consumers can already shop online 24hrs a day, 7 days a week. Encouraging greater alignment of trading hours between online and offline makes sense in an omni -channel retail world.

3. Managed retail places, including high streets, are increasingly more mixed in terms of the occupiers with less reliance on traditional retail. Estates Gazette data for the last 18 months concludes that around 2 million sq ft of retail (A1) has been converted to leisure uses, including bars and restaurants.

4. Increased sales from international tourists should be captured in the UK, rather than lost to Paris or Dubai. According to a report last year by LSE the trend across Europe is to liberalise trading hours on a Sunday. Today we are competing for tourist trade on a global basis.

5. Providing jobs on a Sunday is particularly good for young people who do not have the same family ties as some older people may. Given levels of youth unemployment in the UK this is a major benefit of longer trading hours.

6. Politicians in Whitehall are not best place to decide the hours that individuals can and cannot shop on a Sunday. These decisions should be made locally, driven by consumer demand and in dialogue with business.

7. In Scotland state imposed Sunday trading restrictions do not and have never existed. Around 9.5% of shop visits are made on a Sunday north of the border, compared with 19.3% on a Saturday. This is still the lowest proportion of visits on all shopping days, and suggests that at an aggregate level visitor numbers on a Sunday will not increase significantly in England and Wales were restrictions to be lifted.

Background

The benefits of change will not however be universal but will very much depend on local circumstances including employment, wage levels, mobility and competition. In our view other areas of public policy, in particular reform of business rates and implementation of clear, consistent and evidence based local planning policy, are greater priorities.

Nonetheless, as we have for a while felt that the current system of Sunday trading hours is anachronistic we have undertaken research over the past few years into politicians, consumers and businesses views on restricted trading hours for certain shops over 280 sqm .

§ In 2010 we commissioned ComRes to poll consumers and found that although 61% of those questioned did not want Sunday to be treated like any other day of the week

§ However, 60% of people believed that people should be able to make their own decisions as to when they can shop and for what on a Sunday.

§ Further, 73% of respondees didn’t believe shop trading hours should be restricted on religious g rounds in a multicultural society .

§ Finally, we concluded that d eregulated Sunday trading would tempt more shoppers out, and would benefit town centres and out of town retail parks equally. Almost one in five would shop more in town or out of town if shops were open longer on Sundays. All this data is available for committee members should they wish to see it.

In 2012 in partnership with colleagues at the New West End Company (NWEC) we used the opportunity presented by the temporary relaxation of trading hours during the Olympics and Paralympics to test quantitatively and qualitatively the affect of longer trading hours, in and out of London. Clearly the Olympics was a once in a generation event, and therefore any like-for-like comparisons are hard to make with any degree of statistical significance.

§ Nonetheless, when measuring public opinion a permanent extension of Sunday trading hours was generally supported by the public, but significantly less so among employees, and the main driver of public support for deregulated Sunday trading hinged on the potential economic benefits.

§ Interestingly this differed from when we looked at this in 2010 where people were as likely to be motivated by a libertarian sense that government shouldn’t determine when individuals can and can’t shop on Sundays, especially given the growth of importance of internet shopping.

§ In the context of some concerns raised about the impact on smaller shops which currently have a competitive advantage in relation to trading hours, public opinion agreed overwhelmingly that extending Sunday trading hours for large stores made no difference to their likelihood of visiting small local shops.

§ Our sales and footfall data concluded that in London, footfall increased more than sales on Sundays over the deregulated trading period (+7.6% compared with an increase in sales of +2.8%). Outside London, however, the position was reversed with an increase in sales of +6.2% and a decrease in footfall of 3.3%.

§ At an aggregate level there was an average annual increase in sales of +4.7% on Sundays during the deregulated trading period. Sales on the deregulated Sundays increased by more than footfall (+0.7%), suggesting an increase in the average transaction value on the deregulated Sundays.

§ Finally, sales in shopping centres increased on deregulated Sundays (+5.5%), but sales also increased on Saturdays and the weekday periods indicating no trade deflection. In shopping centres there was also a greater increasing in sales than footfall over the deregulated period, suggesting higher transaction values .

Conclusion

Although we do not believe that zoning areas is the best approach - principally as it could create large variations in trading periods within relatively local ised areas and therefore create confusion and potential inequity for consumers and for businesses - we believe this is a sensible compromise and first step in the devolution of trading hours.

Further, we would like to see a commitment from government to review the impact on extended trading hours , and consumer and employee perceptions and impact, after 12 months. W e would also like to see more details on how a Sunday trading authority will consult on the production of its consent notice and what reasonable notice means when varyi ng or revoking consent notices.

February 2016

 

Prepared 24th February 2016