Retailers slam Sunday trading changes

Footfall in Northern Ireland is 'encouraging' say NIRC

A group representing local independent retailers has hit out at plans to change Sunday trading laws.

In its submission to Belfast City Council’s consultation on Sunday Trading, Retail NI said it opposed any move to “water down” the current laws that would lead to big brand supermarkets open earlier at the weekend.

The new trading regime is part of proposals to designate Belfast as a “resort”, relaxing Sunday trading laws during the summer months.

Under current regulations, shops over 3000 sq ft can only open from 1pm.

Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said: “We have serious concerns with this proposal, as it will essentially deregulate Sunday trading, allowing large supermarkets to open all day, for 18 Sundays a year.

“This will have a critical impact on small independent local stores who trade on Sunday mornings.”

Mr Roberts said large multinational supermarkets have “an unfair competitive advantage” over independent retailers with free car parking in out of centre locations.

“The few hours trading our members have on Sundays before the multinationals open at 1pm are absolutely vital to the survival of their businesses,” he said.

“Becoming a ‘holiday resort’ and extending Sunday trading hours would not support the Belfast Tourism Strategy, but would allow large businesses to trade for longer hours at the expense of small retail businesses and local high streets.

“We urge BCC to drop its proposal to allow extended Sunday trading hours across the entire Belfast Council area.”

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