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JEP asks 11 of Jersey's biggest stores whether they would open every Sunday if the States approve changes this week

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WHEN Economic Development Minister Lyndon Farnham announced proposals to allow all shops to open on Sundays, he said he hoped it would help boost the ailing retail sector and combat the threat of online shopping.

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But the retailers themselves, it seems, are in general a little less enthusiastic.

The majority of the big stores contacted by the JEP said they would not open on Sundays if the States gave the proposal the go-ahead during this week’s sitting.

Under the plans, stores with more than 700 sq metres of floor space would be able to open every Sunday between 10am and 6pm.

Currently only smaller shops are allowed to do so, although the large stores are allowed to open for a limited number of Sundays each year.

Some retailers have said the addition of an extra day’s trading would be a huge boost to retail and help bring the Island in line with other jurisdictions, such as Guernsey and the UK. But others believe that opening on a Sunday would add little to the retail offering, would not boost profits and would be detrimental to staff.

Gerald Voisin

Jersey’s two big department stores have given the proposal a lukewarm response, with Voisins ruling out opening every Sunday and de Gruchy saying footfall in town would have to increase to make it viable.

Gerald Voisin, owner of Voisins, said: ‘We will be closed. We will do our bit – opening on Sundays in the run-up to Christmas – but we do not think there is the appetite for regular Sunday trading in town. There are plenty of businesses that can open at the moment that don’t.

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‘The thing I find bizarre about it all is the States have a policy to improve efficiency. They have a tool called the Sunday trading regulations that means businesses close on a Sunday so that trade is done in six days rather than seven but they are going to give that up. That sums up our government – they say one thing and do the other.

‘People are not suddenly going to have more in their pockets because we are open on a Sunday.’

John Marquis, store director at de Gruchy, said that the business did not have any plans to open on Sundays – apart from during the Christmas season.

‘We certainly believe that Sunday trading should be deregulated to allow businesses to make a decision, but we would have to identify whether or not we could open on all or selected Sundays,’ he said.

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‘I would not say no outright but we do not have any plans to open on Sundays at the moment.

‘Footfall in the town centre would need to increase significantly.’

A spokesman for SandpiperCI said Marks & Spencer on King Street would not be opening, and Katherine Ransom, co-director of Ransoms Garden Centre, said they had ‘no intention of opening every Sunday of the year’.

‘It’s not practically or commercially viable – we don’t believe that the public will have more money to spend just because we are open seven days a week,’ she said.

‘Opening seven days a week would mean spreading business out by an extra day.

‘We open up on Sundays in the run-up to Christmas but apart from that we don’t have any intention of opening,’ she added.

Colin Pallot, manager at Le Quesne’s Nurseries and Garden Centre in St Saviour, said that Sunday was a day of rest.

‘No, we would not open on a Sunday, as we would have to employ extra staff, as it would not be fair to make our current team work six days,’ he said.

‘Some of them have family and I think it is a day for rest.

‘Also, opening on a Sunday would just spread out the trade over seven days rather than six. I do not think it would necessarily generate more business,’ added Mr Pallot.

A spokesman for the Powerhouse said that no decision had yet been made.

Some retailers, meanwhile, say they would be keen to take advantage of a deregulation of Sunday trading laws. Waitrose have confirmed that they would open, and claim that the move would create 30 jobs.

‘As well as creating new jobs, Sunday trading would help us further reduce food waste and give our customers greater choice about when they would like to shop,’ said Damian Warman, director of Waitrose & Partners Jersey Ltd.

Mark Cox

And the Co-op has confirmed that its Grand Marché stores in St Helier and St Peter would open if the legislation was changed.

Mark Cox, the society’s acting chief executive officer, said: ‘If Sunday legislation changes, the Channel Islands Co-operative Society Ltd would open the larger Grand Marché stores in Jersey.

‘Our experience in Guernsey shows that there is customer demand for Sunday trade in the larger stores and, as always, we will listen to what our members want and take on their feedback.’

Richard Hemans, finance director at Blue Diamond, which operates St Peter’s Garden Centre, said that of its 37 garden centres across the British Isles – including Guernsey – Jersey’s was the only one closed on a Sunday.

‘If it was legal and it is what the customers want then yes, we would be interested in looking at it.

‘It depends on what the competition is doing, what the customer wants and the economics of it all.

‘The only worry is that it would spread the trade over seven days rather than six and we would then have to staff it for seven days,’ he said.

B&Q declined to comment. However, the DIY retailer’s UK stores open on Sundays.

Normans also declined to comment.

Jack Maguire

By Jack Maguire
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