Sainsbury's opening hours

Some 54% of respondents were in favour of relaxation

With the debate over Sunday trading back on the agenda, a poll carried out for The Grocer has found just over half of shoppers are in favour of relaxing the current laws.

The poll of 1,327 shoppers carried out by Him!, found 54% believed stores larger than 3,000 sq ft should be allowed to open for longer than the current six hours permitted on a Sunday. Just 29% felt they shouldn’t be allowed to open for longer, while 17% said they didn’t know.

Asked whether there should be any restrictions on how long stores open on Sundays, 54% said no, but 36% said yes and 10% said they did not know.

The survey was carried out after those on both sides of the debate conducted their own polls.

Open Sundays, a campaign group in favour of relaxation, claimed its poll found 64% of shoppers wanted current Sunday trading laws relaxed. The Association of Convenience Stores, however, claimed 77% of shoppers favoured the existing rules.

The ACS said of the 20% who opposed the current law, 56% believed large stores should not be allowed to open at all on Sundays, while 23% said they should be allowed to open for fewer than the current six hours. Some 17% said there should be no restrictions on stores opening and just 5% thought larger stores should be able to open for slightly longer.

“In a world of 24-hour shopping, perhaps it’s a good thing to keep some traditions alive,” said Him! research and insights manager Blake Gladman.

The government has not given any indication that it supports relaxation. However, Tory MP Philip Davies is looking to table an amendment to the Deregulation Bill currently going through parliament, which would scrap the current system.