Islanders support Sunday opening

MORE than 60 per cent of Islanders would favour all shops in Jersey being able to open on Sundays, an independent survey has found.

Eliot Lincoln, President of Chamber of Commerce
Eliot Lincoln, President of Chamber of Commerce

The Jersey Retail survey, produced by 4insight and commissioned by the States, has revealed that shoppers would also like later opening hours through the week, more discount retailers in the Island, better parking and more independent shops and street markets.

And during a Scrutiny panel hearing, representatives of the Chamber of Commerce said that they would favour all businesses having the choice of whether to open on Sundays or not.

It was revealed by the JEP last month that the States are considering relaxing current laws, under which shops with a floor space of more than 700,000 sq ft – around 30 stores in the Island – are not permitted to open on a Sunday.

The report was produced as part of the government’s efforts to refresh its retail strategy, which it hopes to unveil next year. It found that:

- 63% of respondents were in favour of Sunday opening, with preferred opening hours of 10 am and 4 pm all year .

- Shoppers who avoid St Helier do so because of poor choice, the ‘hassle’ of finding parking and high costs. Town was perceived positively in terms of customer service and the ‘shopping experience’, however.

- Respondents reported that nearly 60 per cent of he goods available in town were also available online.

- Jersey residents primarily want lower costs, a greater choice of discount retailers, improved customer service, later opening hours, Sunday opening and better parking.

- Visitors to the Island primarily want later opening, Sunday opening,more independent shops and street fairs.

- 34 per cent felt that Jersey retailers were ‘not at all transparent’ on pricing.

More than 1,100 people, including Islanders and visitors, responded to the survey, which was conducted in September and October using focus groups as well as online and street surveys.

During a hearing of the Economic Affairs Scrutiny Panel yesterday, Chamber president Eliot Lincoln said that retailers were divided on the issue of relaxing the Island’s Sunday trading laws but Chamber would favour the move.

‘It’s quite a divisive subject. Some businesses want to open on Sundays, others do not,’ he said.

‘For us, it’s about having the choice for the retailers who currently don’t have the option. There are about 30 retailers who don’t. The call from Chamber is to give those retailers the choice.’

David Elliott, chairman of the Retail Development Group which is overseeing the retail development strategy, said different groups would need to work together to improve Jersey’s high street.

‘My view if we are going to do this is that we have to do it with the customer. Retail isn’t just about selling things,’ he said.

‘We all know that the high street is not having an easy time. People like our high street but we need to make it better. Retail is a great industry and we need to make sure people realise that they can have a great career in retail.’

He added that the retail development strategy, which is expected to be published early in the new year, is being developed with stakeholders including Jersey Business, Visit Jersey, the Infrastructure Department, the Environment Department, the Parish of St Helier, the real estate sector, Digital Jersey, the Jersey Consumer Council and the Chamber of Commerce.

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