A survey of local authority chief executives has revealed that plans to devolve Sunday trading rules locally would benefit out of town stores over high streets and town centres.

In its submission to the government’s consultation on devolving Sunday trading rules to local authorities, the Association of Convenience Stores revealed the results of the survey, which highlighted the potential damage to high streets.

The survey showed:

  • 52% of local authority chief executives included out of town retail parks, out of town supermarkets and large shopping centres as their first or second preference for deregulation of shopping locations.
  • 45% felt that they would be influenced by the decision of neighbouring authorities, suggesting a ‘domino effect’ where authorities will be more inclined to remove Sunday trading rules if other authorities do so.
  • 64% are concerned about the confusion that devolution of Sunday trading hours will cause consumers
  • 69% are concerned about the displacement of trade that differing trade hours would cause between regulated and deregulated areas.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The government claimed when launching this policy that it would boost high street sales, but this is simply not true because most high street stores are already able to open whenever they want.

“The clear winners would be out of town retail parks and large superstores. While ministers think local authorities would use these powers to help high streets, councils themselves say that they would deregulate hours for out of town stores and shopping centres.”

The consultation closes today (Septembe 16).