View from City Road: Small impact of Sunday shopping

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The optimists who think that Sunday shopping will contribute to the recovery are wrong. The research by London Economics suggests that opening on Sunday adds at most about 0.5 per cent to spending. Most of the impact has probably occurred already, since the law is merely being brought into line with present practice. More shops open in England and Wales (where it is illegal) than in Scotland (where it is not).

However, Sunday opening probably affects the pattern of spending and shopping. Sheer convenience may lead to some shift towards items available on Sunday (such as food and drink) from big ticket consumer items like holidays or fitted kitchens.

Clothing and footwear may also lose out. Because labour is more expensive on Sundays, the shops that open tend to be big general supermarkets where the labour cost per sale is low. Labour-intensive specialist shops will not find opening worthwhile. By encouraging the big supermarkets, Sunday opening may also tend to reduce overall shopping costs a little.