The UK government is pushing through a measure that will allow local councils to set their own Sunday trading laws, BBC.com reports. This may lead to supermarkets being able to open longer than the current limit of six hours on a Sunday.
Under the current system, shops over 280 square metres can only open for six hours between 10am and 6pm, while smaller shops can open any hours they choose. This has given small convenience stores an advantage over large supermarket chains.
Business Secretary Sajid Javid said one of the reasons for the move is to allow local authorities to “help struggling High Streets”. However, the Mirror.co.uk quotes James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, who said, “Changing Sunday trading regulations will not help the high street; it would actually damage small high street stores as trade would get diverted to large out-of-town supermarkets.”
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills commented that local authorities would be able to restrict the longer hours to specific zones, such as city centres and high streets.
Included in the proposal are changes to the rights of shop workers, who can “opt out” of working on Sundays or, if they already work on Sundays, to refuse to work longer hours.
The measure was introduced into the Enterprise Bill, which is currently advancing through parliament. If it survives in its current form, local authorities will be able to set their own Sunday trading hours in the autumn.