Spring Budget: Calls from West End and Knightsbridge for relaxed Sunday trading laws

14th March 2023 | Jack Oliver

The New West End Company (NWEC) and Knightsbridge Partnership have called on the chancellor to relax laws regarding Sunday trading for shops ahead of Wednesday’s Spring Budget.

Under current laws, shops in England may only stay open for six hours on Sundays.

The two districts, which are classed as the Capital’s only ‘international centres’ by the city’s London plan, are calling for the changes to help them compete with other global destinations.

London has bounced back slower from the Pandemic than rival cities, which the two bodies have cited as a reason to call for changes to the Sunday laws.

Steven Medway, chief executive of Knightsbridge Partnership, said: “We are seeing the beginnings of a recovery from the pandemic, but there are signs of London slipping down the league table”.

“Authorities in competitor markets like Paris and Milan have moved with the times in accommodating changing consumer habits and are experiencing faster growth relative to 2019 levels. We need a levelling of the playing field with those markets and revised Sunday Trading rules would do just that.”

NWEC chief executive Dee Corsi added: “To compete on the global stage, our international centre status should allow us to behave like other international centres across the world.”

The NWEC also echoed calls from many retailers prior to the Autumn Statement calling on the reintroduction of tax-free shopping for foreign visitors. Plans to reintroduce the policy, which allowed tourists to claim back the 20% VAT on purchases, by ex-Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng were scrapped by Jeremy Hunt following his appointment.

Paul Barnes, NWEC head of advocacy, said: “The fact is that the West End competes with other shopping destinations: high-spending customers can choose where they spend their money. They can go to Paris or Milan or Madrid.

“Britain is now the only major European country not offering tax-free shopping and visitors are voting with their feet and their wallets: they might be coming here but they’re not spending money.”

NWEC-commissioned research suggests that a reintroduction of the policy could be worth £340m per year in sales.


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