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The Enterprise Bill: What Does This Mean for Small Businesses?

Government amendments to the Enterprise Bill are set to give local councils the new power to extend trading hours on Sundays.

What Does The Enterprise Bill Mean for Small Businesses

The plans, which are expected to come into force this autumn, hope to increase tourism and afford increased competition with online retailers – but will there be other implications?

Will This Threaten the Livelihoods of Small Business Owners?

At present, small premises are allowed to stay open all day on Sunday, but larger stores, such as supermarkets, are allowed to open for no longer than 6 hours. The main concerns surround how the changes will affect trade in smaller stores when these larger stores are allowed to stay open. The Rural Shops Alliance (RSA) has said:

"There is universal agreement that the existing Sunday trading laws provide a modest but very welcome boost to smaller convenience stores, which are able to meet customers' needs at times on Sundays when larger stores are closed."

Will this Even Achieve the Desired Results?

It has also been questioned whether the new freedoms will in fact have any benefit. James Lowman, Chief Executive of the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has said:

"In areas where large stores’ trading hours are extended, we will simply see the same amount of trade spread over more hours and shifting from small stores to large stores, as was the case when the laws were suspended for the 2012 London Olympics, when overall retail sales actually fell."

Many ministers have joined together to oppose the changes; Conservative MP David Burrowes has said the changes are "unwanted" and "unnecessary". He believes that the government won't have the support necessary to win a vote on the issue.

Larger retailers, which the rules hope to benefit, have too spoken out about the feasibility of the change. The change would allow councils to pick a 'zone' where the rules are allowed to be relaxed. The Chief Executive of Sainsbury's Mike Coupe, speaking to the Guardian, is worried that the lack of a clear boundary means the council could "draw a line around an Asda store and that could open and nothing else can".

Our Expert Opinion

"It's clear that there are many different worries that factor in here; for small businesses, for families, even for larger businesses if they're excluded from a zone. The government needs to fully acknowledge and address them before rushing through a change that could have a huge impact on many business owners and workers."

Simpson Millar's Commercial Law team work to support business owners with a wide range of issues. Our solicitors have proven expertise in this area and can help whether you're in need of advice or experiencing a problem. Contact us to see how we can help.

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Dated: 23/02/2015

Author: Greg Cox

Landlord - Residential Letting Contract

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