retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Bloomberg reports that Andy Clarke, CEO of Walmart-owned Asda Group in the UK, is pushing the government there - so far unsuccessfully - to allow stores to stay open later than usually permitted on Sunday, December 23, the last Sunday before Christmas.

Normally in the UK, stores larger than 3,000 square feet are allowed to only be open for six hours on Sundays. Those rules were relaxed during the London Olympics, but the government has been steadfast in saying that an adjustment would not be permitted during the holidays.

According to the piece, "This summer’s relaxation of the law for the Olympics received a mixed response from retailers. J Sainsbury Plc CEO Justin King said this year that customers told him they preferred to keep Sunday special with limited shopping hours."

Forbes has a story saying that while Walmart is spending a lot of time and money dealing with charges that it bribed its way to fast-track expansion in Mexico, which if true would put the retailer at odds with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, it is unlikely to have much impact on US consumers' attitudes toward the company.

Experts say that Walmart has endured its share of criticisms over the years, for things like hiring practices, discrimination, health care and anti-union attitudes. These things may impact how consumers feel about Walmart, but they'll still go there to buy something that is on sale at a great price ... in part because of the price, and in part because Walmart's ubiquity often makes it the only place in town to acquire the item.
KC's View:
Does this make Walmart too big to fail?

As for the Sunday shopping rules in the UK ... it occurs to me that these are the kinds of rules that inevitably will have to be changed, if only because online retailers aren't restricted from operating, and it gives them yet one more advantage over bricks-and-mortar retailers. And if Sainsbury wants to keep Sundays special, let it do so. I'm sure Tesco would be happy to serve the Sainsbury customers who do want to shop longer Sunday hours.