With shoppers and supermarket groups ambivalent about proposed changes to Sunday trading rules, retailers are being urged to voice their concerns in order to tip the balance in their favour.

Asda and Morrisons are alone among the major supermarkets in explicitly backing an extension to Sunday trading hours, with others non-committal on the subject.

A spokesman for Sainsbury’s said the current set up was a “sensible British compromise”, while Tesco said it would wait until proposals were published before making a policy decision. “We understand there are strong views on either side of the debate over further liberalisation of Sunday trading,” a spokesman said. The Co-operative, Aldi and Lidl also said they would await further details, while Waitrose said it would respond once it had given full consideration to the impact of the proposed changes.

In an online C-Store poll only 46% of respondents said changes to the rules would harm their business.

Among the public, 42.7% said ‘yes’ to extended hours in a poll by Kantar, while 46.6% said ‘no’. A further 10.7% of the 7,039 people polled didn’t know.

“Based on what we’ve heard from both retailers and shoppers, the appetite for change is half-hearted and any dramatic changes to the current regulations would be a piecemeal attempt to fix something that isn’t broken in the first place,” said Bryan Roberts, insights director at Kantar.

Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman urged retailers to speak out. “The current Sunday trading rules are a popular compromise that is supported by consumers, retailers and families,” he said.

“However, the only way that we can show the extent of how unpopular and unnecessary these measures are is by sending a large volume of letters to MPs and ministers. By writing to your MP, you will play an absolutely essential part in helping oppose changes to Sunday trading regulations.”

Keep Sunday Special has launched a new campaign against devolving the current Sunday trading laws.

For more information about Keep Sunday Special, visit www.keepsundayspecial.org.uk

Send a template email on Sunday trading to your MP