Chancellor George Osborne is expected to announce a major reform of Sunday trading laws in tomorrow’s emergency Budget.
Osborne will supposedly opt to devolve responsibility for regulating Sunday trading to mayors and local councils, who will be able to choose total deregulation in their areas if they so wish.
The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) and the Federation of Wholesale Distributers (FWD) condemned the move.
The ACS warned it would be complicated, ineffective at increasing trade on the high street and jeopardise the livelihoods of convenience store owners. The FWD said it found the news “baffling”.
James Lowman, ACS chief executive, feared “inconsistency and confusion”.
ComRes research for the ACS in February showed that 76% of the public supported existing Sunday trading regulations. 60% of those in favour of change called for greater restrictions on trading hours, the research found.
With the temporary removal of Sunday trading rules during the 2012 London Olympics, sales declined by 0.4% overall, with some smaller retailers reporting a sales decline of up to 20%, according to the ACS.
However, other research has found the public approves of relaxing Sunday trading laws, with a CRM poll claiming 60% in favour, and that 40% think Sunday trading restrictions are indicative of “rip-off Britain”.