Over three-quarters of the public don't want large shops to open for longer on Sundays, despite an attempt by several high street chains to alter the existing law.

Retail groups including Topshop, Selfridges, Boots and Burton last week wrote to Business Secretary Peter Mandelson claiming that the current restrictions will cost businesses £50m in London alone on Boxing Day this year, which falls on a Sunday, and asking for a change in the rules.

However a poll commissioned by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) last month revealed that 76% of those surveyed support the existing Sunday trading laws that only allow larger shops to open for six hours, while stores under 3,000sq ft in size are allowed to open without restriction.

Some 85% of respondents opposed a one-off change in trading laws to allow shops to open longer on Boxing Day.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said the results showed that large retail companies were out of touch with the public. "The overwhelming public opposition to relaxation of Sunday trading shows that the current law should be retained," he added. "It supports local shopping in small stores on a Sunday."

Londis retailer Atul Sodha of Harefield, Middlesex, told C-Store that he thought that the current rules were fair to all.

"If larger stores are allowed to open all day on Sunday then it will take away a massive point of difference for smaller outlets," he said. "The multiples already have a huge share of the market, and there is a balance to the current restrictions that gives local businesses a chance to prosper. If these were relaxed, then I wouldn't see much point in even opening on Sunday."