Chancellor George Osborne confirmed what many had been expecting when he outlined the budget – a temporary extension of Sunday trading hours during the Olympics and Paralympics.
There are yea-sayers and naysayers on the issue. I for one am firmly on the side of extending Sunday trading from the view of delivering a convenient customer experience.
Smart marketers are scrupulously analysing every aspect of their business to find ways to improve the customer experience.
Multichannel strategies are being developed to include click and collect, mobile and online services that integrate seamlessly so that consumers can shop online, from home, from work, on the move and on the high street or through a combination of these.
In the 24/7 constantly connected world we now live in, it’s ludicrous that this mindset hasn’t already been extended to longer opening hours on a Sunday.
The relaxing of regulations during the Olympic Games is a short-term opportunity for retailers and brands to take advantage of an already busy time in the nation’s capital to boost revenue.
Verdict Research estimates that retailers could stand to increase sales by £220m in the summer.
With most retailers still predicting further challenging times to come in the next year to 18 months, anything that can significantly boost sales should be welcomed.
According to Deloitte, 84% of retail businesses already expect an increase in demand during the summer, so it makes sense to legislate to allow another way to benefit from the increase in footfall from both international and domestic visitors.
Of course, it’s not compulsory, and for some smaller retailers or those in areas with lower footfall that are unlikely to see a significant increase in visitors, it might not be profitable.
It will however provide a better, and more convenient experience for customers, which in brand value terms, is invaluable.
Allowing shops to open longer on a Sunday has been hailed as anti-Christian and there is opposition from the “Keep Sunday Special” brigade who argue that longer trading hours on Sunday will destroy precious family time, put shopworkers under stress and generally bring on the downfall of society.
What people that oppose longer trading hours on Sundays forget is the fact that just because a high street is opening and trading, consumers aren’t forced to go there and shop. The reverse does, however, hamper the convenience of other consumers who have no qualms about setting foot into stores on Sunday and in fact find it inconvenient and restrictive to do so in the current limited opening hours.
Of course, there are issues of working practices to consider under extended trading hours, but there are plenty of unemployed people that I’m sure would jump at the chance to work on a Sunday.
So not only does extending Sunday trading give retailers another way to improve the customer experience, boost sales and the economy, but it also goes a way to ease unemployment.