The pressure on the government to leave Sunday trading hours as they are has increased with new research highlighting that nearly 80% of MPs are against any extension.

The survey conducted by independent analysts Communicate Research for shopworkers’ union Usdaw, found that 78% of MPs questioned rejected the idea that Sunday trading hours should be completely liberalised as called for by bigger firms such as Tesco and Asda.

Usdaw general secretary John Hannett said: “This is a massive thumbs down to the idea that there is widespread support at Westminster for any relaxation of the present six hours large stores can open on a Sunday.”

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is currently carrying out a review to see how much support there is for relaxing the present Sunday trading arrangements but Hannett believes this latest research clearly showed a lack of enthusiasm for change among backbench MPs.

Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) public affairs manager James Lowman believes this unrest amongst backbenchers and particularly Labour ones, would make it a foolish move for the government to stake too much political capital on the issue.

The ACS is meeting with the DTI next week to put forward its case for keeping the status quo when it comes to Sunday trading hours and will highlight to the government department independent research carried out on behalf of Convenience Store and the ACS, which showed that nearly 70% of shoppers were against big stores opening longer on Sundays. The results of this survey mirrored more or less exactly those of a separate study carried out on behalf of Usdaw.

Lowman said: “It is clear that only three businesses - Tesco, Asda and B&Q - want an extension to the present trading hours, while the research that has been carried out shows that there is no demand for an extension anywhere else. Hopefully, the DTI will take this and the Early Day Motion on the subject, which has been signed by 175 MPs, as enough evidence to stick with the current situation.”

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