The retailer’s association, retra, has criticised Chancellor George Osborne for pressing ahead in the Budget with plans to suspend all Sunday trading restrictions during this summer’s Olympics and Paralympics.
“To use the London-centric Olympics to potentially change the face of retail nationally and gift yet more market share to the supermarkets and multiples will be a truly tragic legacy,” said Bryan Lovewell, retra’s chief executive.
Although presented as a temporary measure, the Chancellor has hinted that the Olympic ‘experiment’ – which is fiercely opposed by 89% of the public and 91% of shop workers and has been rejected every time it is debated in Parliament – may be used as a test case to ‘learn lessons’, suggesting a more permanent suspension would be considered.
“We believe that for family stability and community life, as many people as possible should have the possibility of a common day off every week”, commented Mr Lovewell.
Mr Lovewell also said retra welcomes proposals to relax employment law, as these will remove both expense and bureaucracy, and to reduce corporation tax by a further 1% to 24% in April, although retra is cautioning Mr Osborne to be careful in his definition of small businesses to ensure that micro-businesses can compete for loans against companies with larger turnovers and resources.
The association has also criticised the government announcement that the National Minimum Wage (NMW) is set to increase in October by 1.8%, taking the adult NMW rate to £6.19 per hour.
Bryan Lovewell chief executive, said: “The NMW is yet another cost to our members – it’s a pity that the government doesn’t recognise that. This increase announcement comes at a time when long-established businesses in high streets across the country are closing, due to a lack of consumer confidence.”