Under current Sunday trading laws, stores under 3,000 sq ft can choose their own Sunday opening hours, but larger stores are restricted to six hours between 10am and 6pm.
This week, 600 retailers on London's Bond Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street called for the introduction of one-off emergency legislation to allow stores to open for an unrestricted number of hours on Boxing Day, which falls on a Sunday this year. They claim restricted hours will cost them £50m. The move follows last week's decision by the Garden Centre Group to flout trading restrictions by opening 76 centres on Easter Sunday.
However, the ACS claimed the majority of the public supported current laws. Just 5% of those surveyed wanted a relaxation of laws and 89% wanted either no change or further restrictions, while 85% also opposed calls for relaxed restrictions on Boxing Day, it said. "Our polling shows the large retail companies arguing for relaxation of Sunday trading laws are out of touch with the public," said ACS CEO James Lowman.
"Local shops benefit from the current restrictions because they support a balance towards local shopping in small stores on a Sunday. Unsettling this would have a significant impact on the viability of local shops."