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Tory MP calls for relaxed Sunday trading laws after sharp rise in online Xmas shopping

Tory MP calls for relaxed Sunday trading laws after sharp rise in online Xmas shopping

Visa Europe | Visa

3 min read Partner content

Conservative MP Luke Hall has argued the rise in online spending over the Christmas period shows the need for the liberalisation of the Sunday trading laws.

Under the current laws, large shops and supermarkets are only allowed to open for six hours on Sundays.

Plans to relax were put on hold in November after it appeared the Government would lose a Commons vote on the issue.

But news that there was a sharp rise is e-commerce spending of 7.4% caused Mr Hall, who chairs an all-party Parliamentary group focusing on retail, to call for the Government to revive the issue of devolving the trading laws to the High Street.

“This sharp rise in online spending over the Christmas period demonstrates the clear need for the liberalisation of Sunday trading laws,” he told PoliticsHome.

“This is more evidence that online retailing is continuing to grow strongly, people are shopping on a Sunday, they are doing it online. These figures should encourage the government to revive the policy of devolving Sunday trading powers to allow the High Street to compete.”

The statistics, drawn from Visa Europe’s UK Consumer Spending Index, also revealed that consumer spending increased solidly in December (2.3% year on year), rounding off 2015 as the second strongest year since 2008.

Business Committee member Chris White praised the figures, describing them as “encouraging”.

“Being the second strongest year since 2008 after a very positive showing in 2014, it is clear that the level of consumer confidence is growing.  In my constituency, Warwick and Leamington, we have seen busy retail and online trading over the Christmas period with an upbeat response from local businesses,” he told PoliticsHome.

“With unemployment continuing to fall both locally and nationally and wages increasing above inflation, this is a good note on which to start the year.”

The figures also showed that expenditure increased at an average annual rate of +2.3%, down only slightly from the equivalent figure for 2014 (+2.5%), where growth hit a post-crisis high.

Although online spending has seen a sharp increase, face-to-face spending has barely changed from December 2014 (-0.1% on the year).

Spending growth was led by higher expenditure in the Hotels, Restaurants & Bars (+8.1%), Household Goods (+4.9%) and Recreation & Culture (+4.8%) categories. Meanwhile, the Clothing & Footwear (-1.0%) and Transport & Communication (-1.2%) sectors both saw a slight fall in spending volumes during December.

Managing Director of UK & Ireland at Visa Europe said: “Despite concerns about Black Friday limiting growth in December, consumer spending rose solidly last month as retailers benefited from the traditional spending surges in the days just before and after Christmas.

“Much of the stampede took place online though as shoppers took to mobiles, laptops and computers to buy Christmas presents. Evidence also suggests people were spending more online closer to Christmas, perhaps as a result of shorter delivery time and click & collect options. In contrast, high street spend remained broadly flat.

“Overall, December rounded off a very strong year for consumer spending, with average monthly growth of 2.3%, as a mix of rising wages, near-zero inflation and a retail price war put more money into consumer pockets. This is the second strongest performance since 2008, only slightly below 2014 when growth hit a post crisis high.”

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