It’s 10 years since Sunday trading rules were introduced. And it is clear that while the big box retailers are not pressing the government to relax the restrictions, they would all dearly love to open for longer on Sundays.
But retail customers in Batleys’ cash and carry depot in Cardiff are adamant that any easing of the rules would be wrong. They want to keep Sunday special for retailers such as themselves.
Rashmi Patel and his brother Dilip, who have run Pontcanna Stores in Cardiff for 16 years, believe the supermarkets are greedy and should not be allowed to trade as long as they want to on a Sunday.
“They are killing off everybody,” says Rashmi. “We have to open seven days a week, otherwise we cannot survive. On Sunday we make a little bit more money because we do newspapers and because, after 4pm, the big supermarkets are shut.” But he and his brother believe there is a wider issue at stake - the fact that the government is not listening to the concerns of independent operators who feel they are being squeezed out of business by a combination of fierce competition from the multiples and unfair regulations and bureaucracy.
“Small retailers have families to support and pay good taxes and council tax. The government needs to remember that,” Rashmi says.
Joanne Morris, who runs Efail Isaf Store and Post Office in Pontypridd, agrees.
She opens from 6am to 9pm on Sunday - as she does every day of the week. And even though she feels Sunday is an average trading day for her store, Morris also believes it is important that the multiples are not allowed to trade as much as they want. “The big stores should not be allowed to open unregulated on a Sunday. Allowing them to open between 10am and 4pm is fair. They make a lot of money in these hours. It gives people like us a chance once they have shut.”
Maria Roberts, who runs HM& M Roberts in Bedwas near Caerphilly, is of the same opinion. “I would not say we are any busier on a Sunday. We have a Co-op up the road and that does not help. But we would not like to see the big retailers open any longer.”
For one retailer, though, the debate is irrelevant. Stephen Richards, who runs S& KS Store in Clydach Vale near Tonypandy, does not open on a Sunday.
“We take more on a Saturday because people know we are closed on Sunday and so they come and get what they want then,” he says.