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News - 14 April 2006

FSB pleads for defence of small traders

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has submitted a response to the Government consultation on possible further relaxing of Sunday trading laws in England and Wales. The deadline for responses to the Department for Trade and Industry (DTI) is April 13 2006.

The FSB, which counts 48,750 small retailers and wholesalers in its membership, believes that current policies at local and national level generally work in favour of larger retailers. The restrictions on them during Sunday trading are a small step to counterbalance this public policy bias.

This complex issue cuts across policies on supermarket dominance, post office closures, unfair competition and better regulation.

The 1994 law was welcomed because it allowed small shops to trade freely without being subject to the vagaries of local authority implementation of the previous legislation. It is also useful to have a national standard to avoid local authority decisions affecting firms differently across the country.

Clive Davenport, FSB National Trade and Industry Chairman, said, "The UK has lost 30,000 independent food, beverage and tobacco retailers over the past decade. Newsagents in particular are not expected to survive long-term in their current form due to pressure from the supermarkets.

"In a climate where supermarkets get favourable treatment in planning and parking policies, it is important that in Sunday trading the balance is righted ever so slightly by favouring smaller shops.

"Further relaxing of Sunday trading hours for larger stores will inevitably increase still further the pressure on small shops. It's time for the Government to give small shops a break and leave Sunday trading laws as they stand."

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Federation of Small Businesses

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