MPs and council leaders in push for Sunday trading extension

Sunday retail opening hours for shops in England and Wales need to be relaxed, say 200 MPs and council leaders.

In a letter to the Sunday Telegraph, they wrote that increasing spending on Sundays would help create jobs and help shops compete with online firms.

They backed government plans to devolve Sunday trading laws to local councils.

In the letter, the group - which includes the cross-party British Infrastructure Group (BIG) of MPs - said the world had changed "a great deal" since Sunday trading laws were last updated in 1994.

"Yet whilst times and attitudes have changed, Sunday Trading laws have stayed the same.

"Our high streets and physical retailers have been left trying to compete with 24/7 online shopping, a task which is made harder by a shortened trading day at the weekend, just when many families might hope to go shopping together. 

"It is for this reason that we back the proposed change in England and Wales which would update our trading laws for the 21st Century.

"Ultimately, we believe that the best way to determine whether large shops are open for longer than six hours on a Sunday is to hand this decision to local communities."

In England and Wales, shops over 280 sqm, or 3,000 sq ft, in size can open their doors for only six consecutive hours between 10:00 and 18:00. Retailers can be fined up to £50,000 if they break the rules.

There are no trading restrictions in Scotland, while in Northern Ireland shops can open for up to five hours between 13:00 and 18:00.

The letter includes more than 40 MPs and is led by former Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps.

Its report argued the trend across Europe is for "liberalising" Sunday trading laws, saying that changes on the continent resulted in a 7-9 per cent net increase in employment.

In January Horticulture Week revealed Sunday trading would go back into Parliament in February.

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