London’s West End and Knightsbridge urges government to extend Sunday trading hours
The New West End Company (NWEC) and Knightsbridge Partnership have submitted a joint proposal ahead of this week’s budget, urging the government to relax Sunday trading laws and grant extended business hours.
The key London shopping districts said that current Sunday trading laws have made it more difficult for the two areas to compete on the global stage. Under current Sunday trading laws, shops in the UK can operate for a maximum of six hours on Sundays, with most opting to operate from noon until 6pm.
Both retail destinations are in need of a post-COVID-19 boost, as London has been slower to rebound from the pandemic than other cities. According to Global Blue's data, despite tourist spending in London recovering to close to 2019 levels, spending in other fashion centres such as Paris and Milan has vastly exceeded 2019.
Steven Medway, CEO of Knightsbridge Partnership, commented: "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’s CEO, Dee Corsi, added: "International tourists are used to visiting shopping destinations that stay open for longer, with Galeries Lafayette in Paris closing at 8pm on Sunday, while the Mall of Emirates is open to shoppers until midnight. To compete on the global stage, our international centre status should allow us to behave like other international centres across the world."
Corsi also noted that Sunday is the busiest shopping day of the week in the West End on a per-hour basis.
In addition, many retailers have cited the end of VAT-free shopping post-Brexit is a major reason for London’s slower recovery from the pandemic. According to research from Volterra, commissioned by the New West End Company, allowing shops to be open for eight hours instead would generate around £340 million per year in sales.