The government would face opposition from a number of its own backbenchers if it backtracks on its pledge to maintain the existing Sunday trading laws.
MPs have demanded assurances from the government that it has no plans to permanently suspend the Sunday trading status quo.
Speaking in a House of Commons debate last week, Conservative MP for Congleton, Fiona Bruce, offered a passionate defence of the existing laws, which limit supermarkets to six hours of trading on Sundays. She cited the Association of Convenience Stores’ evidence that independent retailers reported a sales loss of up to 20% over the Olympic period. “That reported negative impact is of considerable concern to many small retailers, which often live on narrow margins, and to their employees.”
She listed a number of ministers who had offered assurances over Sunday trading in the past few months, including secretary of state Vince Cable and the prime minister. “I request from the deputy leader of the House, on behalf of BIS ministers, clear and unequivocal confirmation of the assurance given when the Sunday Trading Bill was debated and passed that the extension of trading hours for the period of the Games would not be extended,” she added.
Her request was endorsed by a number of other MPs, including Conservative MP for Enfield, David Burrowes. The government will respond to her request in due course.
Elsewhere, Walsall South Labour MP Valerie Vaz has introduced an Early Day Motion calling on the government to maintain existing Sunday trading legislation. Two Conservative MPs and three Liberal Democrat MPs had so far signed the petition as C-Store went to press.