Sainsbury’s decision to open its doors for longer on the Sunday before Christmas failed to dent small stores’ trade over the period, retailers report.

All of Sainsbury’s large stores opened an hour earlier than normal on December 23 for what the multiple chain called “browsing time” for customers, with no trading taking place during this period.

Its stores closed as normal, but any customers still in the store at the time were given a “reasonable time” to complete their shopping.

John Perrett, who owns 14 Spar stores on the Isle of Wight, said that business wasn’t affected by what he described as a “cheeky promotion” and that his store had a solid day of trading.

“People who wanted to shop at a large store did so anyway,” he said. “You have to admire their cheek, but I don’t think it was any benefit to them besides publicity.”

Vipul Pabari, who has a Sainsbury’s Superstore near his Connaught Road Post Office and Store in Market Harborough, Leicestershire, was also largely unaffected by the measures. “I certainly didn’t see a decline in trade,” he said. “I don’t think people were that bothered about getting to the large stores early.”

Spar retailer Julian Holliss also reported no drop in trade at his Dartmouth store, despite the nearby Sainsbury’s opening its doors earlier.

A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman stressed that the measures were not a breach of trading restrictions, which prohibits stores over 3,000sq ft from opening for more than six hours on a Sunday.

She also confirmed that these “exceptional measures” were only in place for December 23 and were not a permanent move.

In November, Morrisons and Asda called for a temporary relaxation to the trading laws on December 23, similar to the eight-week relaxation during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The request was refused on the grounds that new legislation would be required for another temporary suspension and that the government “has no further plans for a relaxation of the regulations”.