Morrisons and Asda have called for an increase in Sunday trading hours at Christmas – but Tesco is resisting such a move saying the day is still “special” for many.
Morrisons boss Dalton Philips cited the precedent of longer Sunday hours during the Olympics and said: “You can’t be too puritanical on this.”
However, a spokeswoman for Tesco commented: “Customers already have a large and growing choice about when and how they shop”.
The Tesco spokeswoman also said for many of its shoppers Sunday “remains a special day”.
Over the period of the Olympics and Paralympics large shops were allowed to choose when they opened on a Sunday, rather than being restricted to six hours between 10am and 6pm.
And now in their joint letter to Business minister Michael Fallon, the Morrisons and Asda bosses are calling for extra trading hours on Sunday 23 December.
Mr Philips told the media: “If we can open for the Olympics, we can open on the 23rd. We have creditability because we are not opening on the 26th.”
Sainsbury’s says it is also in favour of the change, because of expected “increased customer demand”.
A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), said: “The Government suspended the Sunday trading laws during this year’s Olympics, so that retailers could take advantage of the unique opportunity the games presented.
“The suspension of the law only applied to the specified period, from 22 July to 9 September. If the Government wanted to look at this again there would be an opportunity for wider debate and new legislation would be required.”
Before the Olympics the Government faced criticism over the issue with Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls warning that the plan would break up “centuries of tradition”.
And Usdaw, the main shopworkers’ union, cautioned that its members are “vehemently opposed to any further deregulation of Sunday trading hours”.
It said that any change “would fly totally in the face of the Government’s commitment to be family-friendly”.