Morrisons has extended its opening hours at the majority of its 440 stores as it seeks to increase sales and productivity.

Most stores will now stay open until 9pm and in some cases 10pm. At the moment, Morrisons can close as early as 7pm. Opening hours will be harmonised in local areas, and made consistent throughout the week.

Chief executive Dalton Philips told the Financial Times that the move would “make a real difference to customers”.

Morrisons trialled longer opening hours in Sheffield at Christmas. Some of Morrisons’ competitors have stores that open 24 hours.

The move is one of several planned to bolster Morrisons’ performance. It is freeing up space in supermarkets to add new products and longer term it could take out unused stock room space.

Group commercial director Richard Hodgson said the retailer is being conservative in its hopes for longer opening hours. “We have just forecast a sales uplift that will cover the additional wages. We are expecting to beat that forecast.”