Sunday’s special place in society would be undermined if the Government pushes forward plans for all day, every day shopping, critics have warned.
Labour and Conservative MPs spoke out against the plans in Parliament, while the Church of England and the Usdaw union have also cautioned against the move.
The Christian Institute met with officials earlier this week to discuss the issue, warning that families would come under increased pressure if the law was changed.
Under the plans, local authorities or elected mayors in England and Wales would be allowed to decide Sunday opening hours for shops in their area.
Labour MP Joan Ryan told the House of Commons that changes to the rules would “benefit nobody”, harm shop workers and damage “our community day off”.
David Burrowes, Conservative MP for Enfield, said if ministers attempt to ‘tack on’ a change to a current Bill, MPs would “vigorously oppose it on behalf of businesses, families and workers”.
Responding to the Government’s consultation, the Church of England said longer Sunday trading would not lead to an improved quality of life.
Rule changes ‘benefit nobody’Joan Ryan MP
It noted that protections in the current law “have not proved to be robust” as “shop workers have reported coercion at various levels which has made it hard to resist enforced Sunday working”.
The Church also said it was “not persuaded that the claimed economic benefits can be realised”.
The Usdaw union – which represents shop workers – also made clear its opposition to the move, saying it was concerned that local authorities would be ‘badgered’ into longer shop opening hours.
It added that a change to the current system would threaten Sunday remaining a “special day, different to other days”.
Last month a survey of adults in England and Wales showed that three in five people agree that shop workers will be forced to work longer hours if the law changes.
The survey, commissioned by the Association of Convenience Stores, also showed just 13 per cent felt there is not enough time to shop on a Sunday under the current rules.