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The government has today launched a consultation on its plans to relax current Sunday trading laws by giving local areas the power to allow large shops to open for longer.

The consultation, which will run for six weeks until the 16 September, puts forward two options for relaxation. These are “devolving powers to locals, for example to metro mayors, through ‘devolution deals’; and/or developing powers to local authorities more generally across England and Wales.”

Local authorities would have the discretion to zone which part of their area would benefit from the longer hours, such as town centres and high streets.

“This government is determined to devolve powers previously held in Whitehall to local people. That’s why we want to give local leaders the power to decide whether Sunday trading is right for their area, and to give their retailers the option to stay open for longer,” said communities minister Brandon Lewis.

Business minister Anna Soubry said the move would provide a boost to the UK economy.

“Modern Sunday trading laws have the potential to create thousands of jobs across the country and help British businesses to thrive,” she explained.“Today’s consultation gives business, shoppers and interested groups the chance to have their say on Sunday trading.”

The government said the move was intended to help bricks and mortar retailers compete with internet businesses and put the UK in line with other international locations such as Paris, Dubai and New York.

Interested parties will be asked three main questions as part of the consultation. These are - should local areas have the power to extend trading hours on Sunday? If the power is devolved, who do you think should be given the power to change Sunday trading rules? And how would you be impacted by local changes to Sunday trading rules?

Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman accused the government of ignoring the views of small independent retailers.

“By pressing on with this unpopular and unnecessary measure, the government has turned its back on thousands of independent retailers, many of which will now be under threat of becoming unprofitable if changes to Sunday trading laws are made in their area,” he argued.

“The consultation process for these reforms has been shambolic and opaque, consulting large retailers whilst ignoring the valid concerns of those hardest hit. The government have not yet confirmed how the proposals will be introduced in Parliament and whether the House of Lords will be given the chance to review the proposals.”