Grant Thornton head of retail services David Bush stressed that, although research shows almost three-quarters of the population have shopped on a Sunday, only 4 per cent see Sunday as a main shopping day and therefore do not spend the bulk of their weekly budget then.
Bush cited a lack of real competitive advantage to opening longer, because most retailers will do the same. In addition, extra staffing costs and bills such as heating 'have to be weighed against the number of additional shoppers a retailer will actually draw in'.
He added: 'The real beneficiary of extended weekend trading will be the consumer.' However, he warned: 'Unless the rules are implemented before Christmas, when shoppers are at their most active, even the shorter-term benefits of relaxation of existing laws are likely to be less than hoped for.'
The National Consumer Council yesterday called for a review of the six-hour opening limit on larger stores operating on a Sunday. Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Alan Johnson has already asked the DTI to prepare an analysis of cost benefits that extended Sunday shopping hours would generate.