The industry remains divided over yesterday's decision by the government not to change Sunday trading hours.

Yesterday, trade and industry secretary Alistair Darling said that following a review and informal consultation the government had concluded that there should be no change to the Sunday trading laws.

Those on the pro-Sunday trading side of the fence argued that the decision was a u-turn after the Department of Trade and Industry originally said at the start of the review in November 2005 that consumers had greater expectations and that society was more multi-cultural.

David Ramsden, chairman of pro-Sunday trading lobby group Deregulate said: “I think that a lot of retailers and consumers are going to be very cross because it appears that the government has now done a u-turn.”

However, the move was welcomed by shopworkers union Usdaw. John Hannett, its general secretary, said: “All our members want is the right to a sensible, proper work-life balance and thanks to this wise decision, they will be able to enjoy quality time with their loved ones on Sundays.”

Shane Brennan, government relations manager for the Association of Convenience Stores, added: “We are delighted that the government has listened to us and decided to keep Sunday trading law as it is. We have maintained from the outset that change was not wanted by the majority of retailers, shop workers or customers.”