David Ramsden of the Sunday Shopping Campaign being run by pressure group Deregulate

In 1994 Parliament decided that all shops would be allowed to open on Sundays. Most shops, about 85% of them (those under 280 sq m), were allowed to open without restriction. But the opening hours for large shops were restricted to a six-hour period, usually between 10am and 6pm.

As a result of this, in cities and large towns across England and Wales and in out-of-town shopping centres, shops trade legally on a Sunday, although in many smaller towns and villages, some large shops decided not to trade.

A decade later, this reform has resulted in Sunday becoming a vitally important shopping day for consumers.

So keen are shoppers living busy lives to take advantage of Sunday opening that in many stores customer numbers are now so great that the customer service, product supply and the shopping experience are all stretched to breaking point.

Retailers and shopping centres illustrate how their car parks are full by 10am and how shopping activity during the six-hour period is extremely busy.

For these reasons Deregulate proposes, on behalf of the retail sector and the consumer and all those whose trade is connected with Sunday shopping, a final liberalisation of the law by allowing total freedom to consumers, retailers and staff to decide when and for what period to open on Sundays.

This proposal will apply to all retailers but different pressures in different parts of the industry would lead to different solutions to Sunday trading.

In the run up to Christmas, one could imagine the high street stores maximising their opening times on Sundays. The opening of garden centres would logically fluctuate between the summer months and the winter months.

Food is only a small part of the picture in our vision of liberalised Sunday trading. However, there are those who put forward the argument that convenience stores will suffer if supermarkets open for longer than six hours on Sundays.

At Deregulate it is not for us to comment on the issues that may lead the Office of Fair Trading to refer to the Competition Commission the issue of the alleged domination of the supermarkets.

However, we are very keen to stress that, in our opinion, the issue of the impact on convenience stores of multiple power does not in any way relate to the question of freeing up Sunday shopping hours.

To demonstrate that we were right about this, we asked retail consultancy Verdict to provide an independent view as to whether longer opening hours on Sundays by supermarkets would have any impact on the convenience store sector.

It concluded that there was absolutely no evidence at all to suggest there would be any impact on convenience stores.

Verdict points out that, if there were a direct correlation between supermarket opening hours and the convenience sector, one would have expected to see a marked drop in sales in the convenience sector immediately after the 1994 Act.

In fact, there was no such fall. Indeed spend has increased year-on-year in the convenience sector across the week [Verdict] and the sector has grown faster compared with the grocery sector as a whole [IGD]. So to us, there is no evidence at all to suggest there will be damage to the convenience sector as a result of our proposal being implemented and, in any event, food is but a small part of our liberalisation proposals.

To us, this is an issue of choice. We want the right for consumers to choose when they shop on Sundays, we want the right for retailers to choose how to respond to their customers' needs, and we want shopworkers to have the right to work (and a right to refuse to work) on Sundays.

This is an issue for these stakeholders to decide and is not an issue in which politicians should be involved.