Councils will have powers to extend Sunday opening hours for retailers from this autumn, the Government has said today.  

The shake-up, first announced by George Osborne last summer, will mean local authorities can allow shops over 3,000 sq ft to open beyond the current limit of six hours.

As part of the changes, retailers will be able to “seasonally adjust” hours to compete for tourism trade, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) said.  

The move is part of a Government initiative to help bricks-and-mortar retailers compete with fast-growing etailers.

Online shopping now accounts for 12.8% of retail sales, BIS said.

Business Minister Anna Soubry said: “Extending Sunday shopping hours has the potential to help businesses and high streets better compete as our shopping habits change.”

BIS today published its official response to the consultation on the plans, after confirming last week it was pressing ahead with the move. The plans were reportedly put on hold last year after facing political opposition.  

However the Association of Convenience Stores attacked the plans, claiming the move will “devastate” small shops.

Chief executive James Lowman said: “They [the Government] claim that Sunday trading changes will help high streets compete with online retail, but not one consumer or company polled this year has claimed that Sunday trading hours are a factor in the popularity of online shopping.”

The changes will also mean shop workers only have to give one month’s notice if they do not want to work on Sundays, as opposed to the current rule of three months.