The government has promised to take into consideration new research showing that nearly seven out of 10 of shoppers do not want big stores to open for longer hours on Sundays.

The research, carried out by BMRB on behalf of Convenience Store and the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), shows that only 28% of shoppers want large stores such as Asda and Tesco to open for longer on a Sunday, and that 52% of these shoppers would change their mind if it meant that local stores would go out of business as a result. And, according to a second study carried out by C-Store, 30% of independent c-stores would be likely to close down if they lost their Sunday trading advantage to the superstores, and 44% would cut staff.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has asked for an independent assessment of the current Sunday trading regime as a number of major retailers, notably Asda, have thrown their weight behind the Deregulate campaign calling for longer Sunday trading hours. While changing the laws would require new legislation, a more liberal Sunday trading regime could be piggy-backed onto other laws such as the proposed 2006 Deregulation Bill.

Commenting on the findings, a DTI spokesperson said: “It has been over a decade since the laws on Sunday trading were changed. The DTI has invited independent researchers to carry out a thorough assessment of the effects of liberalising Sunday trading which will include looking at the impact on small businesses. The research will also look at the impact on jobs, economic growth and consumers’ needs. “The Department notes the BRMB survey results and will look at this research in more detail.”

ACS chief executive David Rae commented: “Once and for all, this should stop the false idea that customers want longer Sunday trading hours. “There is no appetite for liberalisation of Sunday trading laws, and the government should abandon any idea it had to change the Act. If common sense prevails, this should be the end of any thoughts of changing the current Sunday Trading Act.”

Last week shopworkers union Usdaw released a survey from NOP which said that 62% of shoppers did not want an extension of the six hours that large stores are currently allowed to open on a Sunday. To back up these findings, a group of MPs have tabled an Early Day Motion opposing the deregulation of Sunday trading.

Usdaw general secretary John Hannett commented: “The survey reveals a high level of concern among shoppers about the negative impact deregulation will have on local stores. We’re asking consumers to contact their MP to make sure they support EDM 1085.”

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