Shops could open for longer on Sundays under new Government proposals – despite the Conservatives stating they had no such plans before the General Election.
Currently large stores can open for a maximum of six hours between 10am and 6pm on Sundays, but Chancellor George Osborne is set to announce a consultation on increasing this in Wednesday’s budget.
The Church of England spoke out against such a change last year, and the Usdaw shop workers’ union has said it will campaign against the proposal.
Ahead of the election, the Keep Sunday Special campaign received an assurance that the Conservatives had “no current plans to relax the Sunday trading laws”.
In a letter written on behalf of David Cameron, the group was told the Party believed that the current system “provides a reasonable balance”.
However, Mr Osborne is expected to announce tomorrow his intention for local authorities and elected mayors to make individual decisions on the issue.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4′s Today programme, the General Secretary of Usdaw John Hannett, expressed opposition to the idea.
He said the current system allows staff “some kind of respite” while providing a service to consumers.
Describing the move as “very disappointing”, he said it would put more pressure on staff and would not provide economic benefit.
Government Minister Anna Soubry defended the move, saying the consultation was about choice.
Mr Osborne told the media that there is “still a growing appetite for shopping on a Sunday”.
The Church of England said in April 2014: “We believe that for family stability and community life, as many people as possible should have the possibility of a common day off every week”.