Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne is expected to look into relaxing the Sunday trading rules as part of his summer budget plans.

The plan involves giving local councils the power to decide whether or not longer Sunday shopping hours should be allowed.

Currently, shops and businesses on the high street are able to stay open for a maximum of six hours on this day.

Only smaller convenience stores up to 3,000 square feet are permitted to stay open all day.

While many small retailers still choose to maintain the traditional Sunday shutting setup, a lot of shops, particularly the larger chains, stay open for as long as possible with an 11am-5pm slot being typical.

There’s been much talk in recent years about making such changes permanent in order to boost business and employment in the UK, but nothing has ever actually got past the discussion stage.

Mixed views to extended Sunday opening times

Reaction to this news has been split. While the government agenda is said to be rooted in boosting the economy, helping businesses make more money and aiding consumers, some fear smaller retailers will lose out to the bigger fish.

James Lowman, Chief Executive of the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) believes giving local authorities the responsibility for setting Sunday trading hours will lead to inconsistency and confusion for businesses and shoppers.

“Liberalising Sunday trading hours would make some small stores unviable,” he said.

“The short period of time that small stores are open while large stores are shut is a crucial advantage for convenience stores, most of which are owned by small businesses.

“In areas where large stores’ trading hours are extended, we will simply see the same amount of trade spread over more hours and shifting from small stores to large stores, as was the case when the laws were suspended for the 2012 London Olympics, when overall retail sales actually fell.”

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