Is Sunday shopping set to be transformed?

New government proposals could mean thousands of small businesses face fresh competition on Sundays.

Tomorrow’s Budget is set to open the door for more Sunday shopping, with reports suggesting that George Osborne is planning an overhaul of current retail law.

As things stand retail businesses of more 280 sq m (3,000 sq ft) in England and Wales can open for no more than six consecutive hours on a Sunday. However, under the new proposals these legal restrictions could be lifted, providing bigger brands with more flexibility.

The idea is to give towns and cities more control over their economies, with local powers like mayors and councils given more responsibility. Under the plans these officials could grant bigger retailers the freedom to open and close like any other day – so long as they believed this would bring benefits to the local economy.

Reaction to the proposals have been mixed, with the chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores James Lowman suggesting that “liberalising Sunday trading hours would make some small stores unviable,” and John Hannett, secretary general of shopworkers’ union USDAW, stating that the union would campaign against the move.

Despite this Osborne has remained bullish, pointing to research by the New West End Company - which represents more than 600 businesses in London – suggesting that two extra hours of Sunday trading could create nearly 3,000 jobs in the capital, and generate more than £200m a year in additional sales in London alone.

What do you make of the proposals? Do you think they spell good or bad news for small retail businesses? Let us know in the comments below.

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