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Retailers call for change in Sunday trading hours

Some of the biggest names in shopping – Asda, Morrisons and department store Selfridges – are backing a Parliamentary offensive to extend Sunday trading hours.

The retailers and some MPs want to relax laws in England and Wales which prevent large stores opening for more than six hours on Sundays.

Conservative MP Philip Davies, vice-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Retail Group, said: ‘I would like to scrap the Sunday trading restrictions altogether. The sky has not fallen in Scotland where there are no such rules.

‘We are living with a ridiculous anomaly. If people want to keep Sunday special that is fine, they can do so. It is about freedom of choice.’

Under the Sunday Trading Act 1994 shops of over 300,000 sq ft can only open for a maximum of six hours on a Sunday and not before 10am.

But Mr Davies believes that with the growth of online shopping, the time is right for a change.

He intends this week to table a series of amendments to the Deregulation Bill going through Parliament, with MPs being given a chance for a free vote before the summer.

These will include options to abolish restrictions altogether, to allow extra hours for stores to open on Sundays, or to give local authorities the power to decide.

An amendment allowing large garden centres to open for eight hours on Sundays is also expected.

Two years ago, the Government suspended the Sunday trading laws during the Olympic Games and allowed stores to open for eight hours.

Asda, Morrisons and Selfridges have now told Ministers they would like the extra opening hours to be permanent.

DIY store B&Q supports the principle but is not campaigning.

However, the Home Retail Group – which includes Homebase, Argos and Habitat – Sainsbury’s and Waitrose are against any change. John Lewis, Next and Lidl had nothing to say on the issue when approached.

The Keep Sunday Special Campaign said extended Sunday opening in 2012 was a flop.

The Department for Business said there were no current plans for a relaxation of the regulations.

Source : Val Elliott - Daily Mail

06 April 2014
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