Retailers urge Scottish gov’t to rethink banning New Year’s Day trading

Retailers accused the Scottish government of singling them out
// Retailers accuse Scottish government of singling them out over plans to ban large stores from trading on New Year’s Day
// The Scottish Retail Consortium has criticised the government’s proposals
// The consortium said that shops alone would suffer if the ban went ahead

Retailers have reportedly accused the Scottish government of singling them out after revealing plans to ban large stores from trading on New Year’s Day.

The Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) criticised the government’s proposals as the consultation on changing the trading law on January 1 comes to an end this week.

The consortium said that shops alone would suffer if the ban went ahead, while pubs, restaurants, hotels, cinemas and petrol stations with retail shops would be able to trade freely, The Times reported.

Moreover, a potential ban on large shops opening was also at odds with the work of the Scottish government’s £2 million backed city centres recovery taskforce.

“We are at a loss to understand why shops are being singled out, treated differently and at risk of being shackled with a legislative ban, and not other customer-facing parts of the economy,” SRC director David Lonsdale said.

“Service businesses must trade at times where other workers in the economy are able to take time off.

“Are we going to invite the world to come to Scotland for Hogmanay, but then prevent revellers spending their money in our stores the next day? The retail sector is Scotland’s largest private sector employer.”

Shop workers’ union Usdaw wants the change to be brought in before January.

Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said: “Usdaw members work incredibly hard during the festive period and are exhausted by Christmas Day. Many are only able to take one or two days off.”

The Christmas Day and New Year’s Day Trading (Scotland) Act 2007 gives the Scottish government the power to make a statutory order to close large shops on New Year’s Day.

Usdaw has called on the government to apply the relevant section of the act for the past 14 years.

The Scottish government said: “The consultation continues until August 24. We will then carefully consider all responses before deciding whether to introduce legislation to restrict large retailers opening on New Year’s Day, as they currently do on Christmas Day.

“Our retail strategy, City Centre Recovery Taskforce and the £10 million Scotland Loves Local Fund will help support our town and city centres and local communities to recover from the pandemic.”

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