Nearly 95 per cent of those polled in a survey from the HTA wish to trade from 9am-6pm rather than the current limit of six hours.
The HTA will present the findings at a meeting with consumer affairs minister Gareth Thomas next week to discuss Sunday trading.
HTA marketing head Andrew Maxted said: “The level of response received to this questionnaire undoubtedly illustrates the importance that garden traders, and indeed members of the public, place on this issue. In this current economic climate people are looking to make greater use of their gardens and outdoor space for leisure activities. We believe that by extending the Sunday trading hours people will have a greater opportunity to purchase plants and garden products – and in doing so will assist the Government in meeting its environmental, social and health agendas.’ These results will play a key role in underpinning our case to the Minister when presented to the next week.”
The Sunday Trading Bill is currently at committee stage in the House of Lords.
60% respondents trade on a peak season Sunday from 10.30am with a further three in ten opening their doors at 10am. Eight in ten operate the same Sunday trading hours throughout the year.
The vast majority of respondents (94.9 %) want to extend their Sunday trading hours, many from 9am-6pm.
For Easter Sunday 92 % of garden retailers want to open-they currently cannot.
More than half said increased opening hours would mean sales increases of more than 10 per cent and 33.8 per cent would expect an uplift of between 5-10 per cent.
Extrapolated across the estimated 1,000 garden centres caught by the current legislation suggests that overall sales uplift from additional Sunday trading hours could be s £30-£35 million over a full year and from Easter Sunday trading a further £12-£15 million.
Only one in ten of respondents reported having staff who had chosen to opt out of Sunday work - representing 0.6 per cent of the total full time workforce.
Almost two in five of respondents said that they would take on extra staff – typically one full time member and two part time staff.