The government has launched its consultation on plans to relax Sunday Trading laws.
The proposed reforms, originally announced last month and included in the Enterprise Bill, would give city mayors and local authorities the power to allow large shops to open for longer on Sunday.
Local authorities would have the discretion to zone which part of their governed area would be able to operate the longer hours.
The government claims that the move will help retailers better compete with online retailers and create new jobs.
The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) slammed the proposal, claiming that longer opening hours will simply result in trade being diverted from smaller stores to larger stores, with no overall benefit in sales to the UK economy.
Chief executive James Lowman said: “The current Sunday Trading rules are a popular compromise that provide a small but important advantage for small shops.
“By pressing on with this unpopular and unnecessary measure, the government has turned its back on thousands of independent retailers, many of which will now be under threat of becoming unprofitable if changes to Sunday Trading laws are made in their area.
“The consultation process for these reforms have been shambolic and opaque, consulting large retailers whilst ignoring the valid concerns of those hardest hit.
“The government has not yet confirmed how the proposals will be introduced in Parliament and whether the House of Lords will be given the chance to review them.”
The consultation will look at two proposals on devolving Sunday trading, devolving powers on Sunday trading law to elected city mayors and / or local authorities.
Businesses, retailers, shoppers and other interested groups are invited to respond.
The consultation will run for six weeks, closing on 16 September and applies to England and Wales.
The document is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/devolving-sunday-trading-rules
Current rules allow stores over 3,000 sq ft to open for a maximum of six hours between the hours of 10:00am and 6:00pm. Stores are also required to close on Easter Sunday and Christmas Day.