>>c-store retailers need a compelling offer - every day of the week

Every day is like sunday

I find it intriguing that on the 10th anniversary of the Sunday trading rules - which have been so important in protecting the trade of c-store retailers in England and Wales - we should have a flurry of surveys and reports showing big box retailers are keen to see them eased.

I don’t get the feeling that there is an appetite among the big boys to press for reform, although Asda boss Tony DeNunzio made some people very nervous earlier this month when he said in an interview that the legislation was out of date and retailers should be allowed to open from nine to six. Sunday trading is an emotive subject, and very few retail bosses are ever prepared to talk about it in public, even though most agree with DeNunzio - as our story on page five points out, almost three-quarters would open for more than the current six hours if they were allowed.

But while acknowledging the importance of the Sunday trading rules, I do feel that if there is anybody out there who still feels that one of their most important USPs is the fact that their c-store stays open longer on Sunday than the superstore up the road, then their business is in trouble, no matter what happens to the legislation.

In any case, some big retailers are already getting round the rules with clever gimmicks such as browsing times. And as the multiples speed up their drive into the convenience market, Sunday will become even less special for those independents without a compelling enough offer to compete every day of every week.

A timely reminder

Being caught out by a test purchasing operation is every decent retailer’s nightmare. So no doubt you will sympathise with Shamus Lehal, whose tale we tell on page 27. With the government’s current crackdown on under-age and binge drinking, our story should serve as a timely reminder that you need to have the tightest possible procedures in place. Lehal is bitter about what happened. And if you take a look at the picture of the girl who bought the alcohol in his store, you’ll see why. Is this a case of enforcement? Or is it, in truth, a case of entrapment?