I met with representatives of NFRN in Parliament to discuss how Government can help independent retailers in Edinburgh South.
We discussed a whole host of issues pertaining to independent shops and retailers including planning, business rates, and crime. I know that many small independent shops in my constituency are also concerned by the Governments plans to remove Sunday trading laws in England and Wales.
Many believe that the increase in out of town shopping and extended supermarket opening times especially are killing small businesses. High street shops are already struggling with a decline in footfall in comparison to large out of town retailers, leading to many shops becoming unviable. I am worried that removing Sunday trading legislation in England and Wales would further exacerbate the issues that small shops are currently facing.
When the laws were relaxed during the 2012 Olympics, it was presented as a temporary measure and not the start of a more long-term switch. Indeed, this temporary lifting of the regulations showed that removing Sunday trading legislation does not in fact create more spending in the economy, it only displaces it. Retail trade in August 2012 went down 0.4% compared to the previous year (BRC/KPMG).
Removing the Sunday trading laws in England and Wales could adversely workers in my constituency as retailers could pay for the extra hours by cutting wages across the UK- including Scotland. The Government's decision to bring forward these changes at short notice and at this late stage of the Enterprise Bill's passage through Parliament is disappointing. My Shadow Frontbench colleague's will now scrutinise the Government's amendment to the Bill in Committee. And I know that they will continue to echo the voices of small businesses, shopworkers and their families in support of the current arrangements.