By Daniel Todaro, Managing Director at Gekko
The rise and fall of the UK high street is well-documented and never far from the news agenda. With retailers scrutinising sales figures and competition being fierce, extending opening hours across Sunday could be a vital first step to rejuvenating the high street and beyond this, the UK economy.
Unlike any nation in Western Europe, the UK is unique in that we like to shop, whilst other nations shop out of necessity, we in the UK like to make our retail therapy more of a sociable brand experience. For a long time now people in the UK have used Sundays as they do Saturdays – to carry out one of their favourite hobbies and pastimes, shopping.
George Osbourne’s recent announcement to shake up Sunday trading laws comes as no surprise. In our current consumer climate, purchases are firmly becoming ‘any place, any time’ and Sunday is no longer an exception to this. Combining the rise of consumer appetite with the reality that people lead extremely busy lifestyles means people want to have the choice to shop for more than six hours.
We are witnessing a shift in the way consumers are buying their goods. There is a lot to be said about people moving online, however a recent article from Forbes reported a 95 per cent of retail purchases worldwide are still being made in-store. This alone should be enough to make the retail industry step up and cater to shopper demand.
As well as ensuring they are adapting to customers developing shopping habits, for retailers, the change in Sunday trading laws is an open door of opportunity. Although we should consider those individuals who want to keep Sunday as a sacred day, looking at this from a commercial point of view – this is all about maintaining a strong, healthy economy in our 24/7 lifestyle, the balance is for retailers to make it work respectfully for everyone’s benefit and lifestyle choices.
Currently in some communities or high streets, stores choose not to open due to the high cost of staffing and overheads costing retailers money instead of making a profit. The laws give retailers the ability to create thousands of jobs through the same trading hours offered the rest of the week, having the option to bring staff in and pay them for longer than 6 hours of work and generate millions of pounds in extra income.
Not only will the changes mean more money in people’s pockets, they will help to boost the UK economy and in a sense help reinvigorate communities and the high street.
The shake up of trading laws is not surprising as sticking to traditional, some say outdated laws, links back to a consumer world that ultimately no longer is reflective of the UK’s lifestyle and desire to shop whenever and wherever they like.