In recent days, government officials have advanced a proposal to extend Sunday trading hours, according to HR Review. Currently, businesses are restricted to no more than six consecutive hours of trade between 10 am and 6 pm.
This standard is the result of a longstanding compromise between shoppers, traders, and retail staff who want to spend time with their families or adhere to longstanding religious practices. However, following a trial period during the recent Summer Olympics, Chancellor George Osborne is suggesting permanently extending Sunday opening hours.
The issue has been a contentious one, and both sides are divided over whether the Olympic trial was even a success. Those in favor of the plan reported a boost in Sunday sales, according to The Retail Bulletin. Meanwhile, those in the opposing camp point to the fact that overall retail sales suffered during the games, as the public stayed away from Central London to avoid large crowds. In their opinion, this means that any conclusions drawn from the trial don’t accurately depict what might happen if the plan were to move forward.
London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson, is a major proponent of the campaign to extend Sunday trading hours. Currently, only smaller stores (under 280 square feet in size) are allowed to remain open all day on Sunday.
To give some context, that allows more than just tiny corner newsagents like Coronation Street’s famed ‘The Kabin’ to extend their hours, as stores as big as the average Tesco Express also face no current restrictions. Also excluded are shops that operate at transportation hubs (like airports) and retailers who specialise in time-sensitive goods, such as pharmacies and car part dealers.
Smaller Stores Feeling CorneredAll that said, for the most part, it’s the little fish in the big pond that have been allowed to thrive mostly unimpeded on Sundays. And that’s exactly why they’re the ones shouting loudest in opposition of the new measure.
An active member of the ‘no’ camp, the Association of Convenience Stores’ James Lowman believes all-day trading will directly take business away from local stores. Traditionally, smaller stores have enjoyed a monopoly on Sundays, one of the only ways they can keep up with megastores. Talking to Personnel Today, he says, “We will simply see the same amount of trade spread over more hours and shifting from small stores to large stores.”
What Does All This Mean for Retail Recruiters?
Should these plans be made into law, recruiters will need to find hundreds, if not thousands, of suitable candidates to bridge the hours gap. It’s no stretch to argue that such a sudden burst in demand would create a majorly difficult situation for HR departments across the industry. Companies affected by the law would likely have to draw on extra recruiters to process the influx of candidates.
Orchestrating a surge of new hires in such a short period of time will require the implementation of delicate management strategies to ensure standards don’t slip during such a busy time. To further complicate matters, local authorities will have the power to set their own rules, meaning those with national contracts will need to adjust to varying stipulations and contexts across the country. Contract staffing agencies may even find that the change affects their opening hours, too, bringing a further set of challenges to the table.