‘More shops open on Sundays would boost visitor experience’

Deputy Kirsten Morel buying some flowers in the market Picture: James Jeune (38171926)

RELAXING Sunday trading rules could form part of work to entice tourists into town at the weekend, the Economic Development Minister has said.

Deputy Kirsten Morel spoke to the JEP following the publication of Enabling Business, his response to last year’s Barriers to Business report, which set out a raft of recommendations about how the government could make it easier to do business in Jersey.

Deputy Morel’s response revealed that work was under way to implement 17 of the 38 recommendations, adding that the rest had either been “tabled for future review”, considered part of an “ongoing process” or “not requiring any action”.

He said that among its work, the government was “exploring” relaxing the Island’s strict rules around alcohol licensing and Sunday trading.

His response comes several months after data revealed a 24% drop in foot traffic in town in August 2023 compared to the same period in 2019 (before the impact of the pandemic), equating to around approximately 250,000 fewer individuals seen on King Street.

Speaking generally about the report, the minister said: “We are pleased that we’ve issued our response and we will be working hard over the next two years, wherever we can, as simply and quickly as possible, to make it easier for businesses to trade in Jersey.

Economic Development Minister Kirsten Morel in the market Picture: James Jeune (38173726)

“It is vital that we do that and reduce the amount of time and money spent by businesses on applications for licensing and Sunday trading, especially.”

He added: “We have already made it easier for stores to open on Sundays but we need to keep an eye on whether it’s possible to relax those regulations further. It would be good to encourage some stores in town to open on Sundays, if only during the summer.

“From a visitor economy perspective, a lot of stores in town are closed on Sunday, so if we can find ways to encourage Sunday opening, we could create a much better visitor experience in town.”

Speaking about timescales, Deputy Morel said: “It could potentially happen within this term. A lot of the work has already been done, and now we are looking to find some of the areas around the edges that would make it even easier. You still need to apply to parishes for a licence, but we can look at making it easier to do that. And for retailers, you are restricted to the hours you can open on Sunday, but we could also look at relaxing that.”

In 2019, legislation was passed allowing larger shops and supermarkets to trade on Sundays between 10am and 4pm. Smaller stores were already allowed to open.

The minister said: “With licensing, the approach I’m interested in is rather than set types of times for opening or closing, for particular types of businesses, we could have a licensing law where individual premises are licensed for particular times. For example, one might wish to close at midnight, and another at 10.30pm, and we are exploring a system where licences are granted on a case-by-case basis, where we tailor the licence to that business. Individual businesses have a greater understanding of what would work for them.”

He added he wanted to keep parishes in the conversation about “what was best for the local community” and that he was talking with the police about “policing such a system”.

“The approach we’re talking about is amendments to the existing law rather than writing a new law,” he said.

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