Butchers uncertain how to react to news on Sunday opening

THE ANNOUNCEMENT that big supermarkets are not to open for more than six hours on Sundays has not been received with the welcome relief some may have expected from independent butchers.

Roger Kelsey, of Roger Kelsey Butchers in Shenfield, London, said the two convenience supermarket stores and large supermarket near his shop are good for his business because they attract customers to the town and to his shop.

Customers choose to buy meat from his shop rather than the supermarkets because he offers a personalised service and quality products, he said. To compete, he said his shop needs to be open as close to the amount of hours the supermarkets do and so he starts trading on Sunday at 10am and closes at 1pm. "If I were to close on a Sunday, the general public would just buy from the convenience stores," he said.

Graham Bidston, chief executive of the National Federation of Meat and Food Traders (NFMFT), said: "Although the issue of Sunday trading was vital to us in retrospect, the extension of a couple of hours for large supermarkets would have probably had little effect in a competitive way in most independent butcher shops, most of which decide not to open on a Sunday anyway."

He said the Federation was more concerned with other issues such as supermarkets dominating land development and the issue over car parking.

Philip Cranston, chairman of the Guild of Q Butchers, said most members of the Guild did not open on a Sunday and said, even if they were to open, he felt the market would not be big enough at that time of the week.

However, retail staff and their union Usdaw are celebrating after 218 MPs signed a Parliamentary early day motion opposing any extension of Sunday trading hours. Usdaw general secretary, John Hannett, said: "This massive vote of confidence highlights that there is serious opposition in parliament to extending Sunday trading hours."

He said it proved that MPs were in tune with the mood of the British public who had no appetite for any further deregulation of Sunday trading. Mr Hannett said: "The most powerful testimony came from two of our members who spoke eloquently of the real pressure shop staff are already under to work on Sundays and they made an incredibly powerful case to MPs that longer Sunday trading hours would make it impossible for them to have a proper work/life balance."

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