Retail trade body the BRC has said it will not lobby for a permanent relaxation of Sunday trading hours as momentum behind a permanent change begins to wane.
Retailers including Asda, Next and Morrisons had supported permanent relaxation of restrictions to trading hours on Sunday, and yesterday was the last day of temporary liberalisation of larger shops’ opening hours that was introduced during the Olympics and Paralympics.
But the BRC said that it would not lobby for a permanent change and would leave it to individual retailers to take up the cause should they wish to.
Tesco, which opened some stores for 24 hours on Sundays during the Games, said that it was confident that shoppers already had a “large and growing choice about when and how they shop”, The Sunday Telegraph reported.
The BRC recorded a 0.4% fall in year-on-year retail sales in August and said there were few signs of a widespread boost from the Olympics.
Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King has vociferously opposed permanent relaxation of the rules and argued that the status quo is a “great British compromise”.
Morrisons chief executive Dalton Philips last week said that the current situation is “confusing” and that he would like stores to be able to open one or two more hours, as well as on Sunday December 23 this year in the run-up to Christmas.
The debate over a permanent relaxation of the rules has split the coalition Government. Some Conservative MPs have backed proposals for longer hours all year round, while the Liberal Democrats are broadly against change.