finance

Mixed reception for New Year's Day trading decision



Ministers have confirmed to the Scottish Parliament that they will not proceed with a legislative ban on shops from opening to customers on New Year’s Day, following a consultation held this summer.

The decision has been met with a mixed response from industry groups, with the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) welcoming the move, having been campaigning against a permanent ban.

SRC director David Lonsdale said: “Ministers have clearly listened to our representations and have responded positively to ensure Scottish shops can remain open for business on Ne’er Day if they so choose – this is good news for shoppers, for retailers, and for our hard-pressed retail destinations.

“There was never any clear evidence that a permanent trading ban was proportional – the onus should remain on individual firms to decide what the best approach for the business is depending on customer demand and availability of colleagues.

“With shopper footfall down by a fifth, the vacancy rate at a six year high, and sales stuck in the doldrums it was essential the Scottish Government clearly demonstrated it was on the side of business.”

However, unions argued that the Scottish Government based its rejection on economic reasons and the fact that the legislation would not cover all shopworkers.

The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) general secretary Roz Foyer said: “The Scottish Government has lavished retail with warm words during this pandemic, but that will be of no comfort for those shopworkers facing the cold reality of another festive day away from family and friends on New Year’s Day.

“Instead of doing what it can, the Scottish Government has hidden behind the excuse that it can’t do everything.

“This is totally unacceptable and calls sharply into question the government’s commitment to Fair Work and the so-called wellbeing economy.”

Earlier this year, Usdaw submitted a petition to the Scottish Parliament calling for the change.

The trade union argues that shop workers “deserve a decent break over New Year” after keeping the nation fed and delivering essential services.

Currently, the Christmas Day and New Year’s Day Trading (Scotland) Act 2007 only bans large shops from opening on Christmas Day.

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