A coalition of lobby groups and trade associations are banding together to fight ‘harmful’ plans to allow shops to open for longer on Sundays which would make some local stores “unviable”.

Organisations including the NFRN, Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) and Federation of Wholesale Distributors have condemned the move that was due to be announced as part of chancellor George Osborne’s Budget on Wednesday (8 July) to boost economic activity.

During the temporary removal of Sunday trading rules during the Olympic Games in 2012, total retail sales declined by 0.4% with independent retailers reporting a sales decline of up to 20%, according to figures released by the British Retail Consortium and ACS.

Sandeep Bains, of Simply Fresh, Faversham, said: “It’s terrible. Sunday evenings are very busy. In our town there are only three stores open, so for the other three supermarkets to be open would not be ideal, I’d definitely lose trade.”

As RN went to press the chancellor was due to announce radical plans that will give “major” towns and cities the power to remove the regulations that prevent supermarkets and large stores more than 3,000sq ft from opening for more than six consecutive hours on a Sunday.

However, many retailers feel misled by the Tory party after a letter to the Keep Sunday Special Campaign before the general election stated the party had “no current plans to relax Sunday trading
laws”.

Harj Dhasee, of Nisa Mickleton Village Stores, Gloucestershire, said: “The Conservatives said they wouldn’t be doing this back in April, so it feels like they’ve sold us down the river a bit.”

Campaigners will be calling on retailers to lobby their local MP and the chancellor as they work on launching a “full-scale campaign”.

Paul Baxter, chief executive of the NFRN, said: “These changes are being justified as an attempt to even the playing field between retailers and online shopping. Yet all it will do is harm the trade of independent retailers as consumers will choose to visit those stores that do not charge for parking and are more accessible than the high street.”