Over 100 English council leaders have come out in support of the government’s proposed amendments to Sunday trading laws.
The proposals are the most significant for Sunday-trading in 20 years. Currently, stores over 3,000 sq. ft. in size can only open 10:00 and 18:00 on a Sunday, but the government seeks to give local councils the ability to decide if stores in their constituencies may stay open longer. There are 353 councils in England and 22 in Wales.
It has been argued that this would help high street stores to compete with both larger retailers and etailers. The government also claims that the changes fit in well with changing leisure and working patterns.
However, critics have claimed that extending Sunday trading hours would primarily benefit large out of town shopping centres at the expense of the high street. Others have protested that Sunday should be “kept special” for traditional purposes and religious practice.
“With the government looking down the barrel of a defeat, they have to listen hard to the concerns, particularly of the Conservatives, “said Conservative MP David Burrowes, part of the 21 strong Tory faction seeking to amend the legislation to only apply to tourist locations.
“Now I am confident that the government are very much listening to ways to negotiate this very difficult situation they have brought upon themselves.
“Defeating the government will be a victory for all those who support the current arrangements which work well and mean retailers can trade, customers can shop, and shop workers can spend time with their families,” said Shadow Business Secretary Angela Eagle.
“I now urge the government to admit defeat and even at this late hour drop these pernicious plans.”
The government will vote on the Enterprise Bill on Wednesday, with 102 Conservative councillors having voiced their support.