Over half of Britons want longer Sunday shopping hours

John Lewis store
Nearly 6 in 10 adults (58%) think that all shops (large and small) should be allowed to open during the same hours on Sunday, according to a survey conducted by the data-driven creative agency Wunderman.

In a bid to understand changing customer behaviour, the WPP-owned CRM agency asked more than 1000 people nationwide their views on the current Sunday trading laws.

While 59% of adults stated that they have not been inconvenienced by the current Sunday shopping hours, which restrict larger retailers to a maximum of opening time of 6 consecutive hours, nearly the same amount (58%) believe that they should be the same for all retailers – regardless of size.

15% of adults also stated that the current Sunday shopping hours encouraged them to shop at more expensive shops– a claim made last month by the Asda chief executive Andy Clarke. He said that customers who wanted to buy their staple goods before 10am or after 4pm (when the supermarkets were typically shut) were being forced to spend 30 per cent more on their goods, which he described as “an example of rip-off Britain.”

However the survey suggested that over three quarters of adults (85%) did not find that they were going to more expensive shops (typically smaller convenience stores) because of the existing regulatory framework.  Three quarters of people also stated that the current Sunday shopping rules was not encouraging them to shop online. Clarke’s assertion that it was indicative of “rip-off Britain” was also rejected by 35 per cent of respondents while 40 per cent agreed with him.

The survey will come as welcome news to those who want the legislation, which was introduced in the 1994 Sunday Trading Act, changed to take account of both the changing way that people shop as well as the face of the high street.

The existing Sunday trading laws are more than 20 years old and prohibit retailers with floor space greater than 280 square metres (typically supermarkets) to open for only six consecutive hours on a Sunday. Such shops are also not permitted to open their doors before 10pm. However smaller retailers can open whatever hours they choose on a Sunday, leading to a two-tier system that some retailers have described as unfair.

Richard Dunn, Chief Strategy Officer at Wunderman commented “Trading laws are more than 20 years old. The findings from this survey further demonstrate that they have not kept pace with today’s on demand society and changing consumer behaviour. That 85% of people are forced to go to more expensive stores on a Sunday shows the laws are having a negative impact on working people.”

Notes to editors:

This study was conducted in Great Britain via TNS PRBus, an Internet omnibus survey on behalf of Wunderman. A sample of 1004 GB adults aged 16-64 were interviewed. Interviewing was conducted by online self-completion from 3rd – 5th March 2015. The sample has been weighted to represent the adult population of Great Britain 16-64.