Shops could be allowed to open for longer on Sundays under radical plans to devolve powers over trading hours to major towns and cities expected to be unveiled in the Budget.
In the biggest shake-up of Sunday trading laws since the 1990s, Chancellor George Osborne wants to allow mayors and councils to determine for themselves what the rules should be in their areas.
The existing law prevents larger stores from opening for more than six hours.
Mr Osborne has decided that decisions on similar relaxations of the law should be taken at a local level, so that areas which think longer opening hours would boost economic activity are free to go ahead.
West Lindsey District Coun and Gainsborough Town Mayor, Matthew Boles, said: “The Chancellor’s recent announcement on opening hours should be welcomed.”
“The district works hard to encourage inward investment, but measures will also need to be in place to make sure small, long-standing businesses are protected.”
“Changes to opening hours will no doubt have an effect on towns and villages across the district, but will have to be administered in a fair way when more details are revealed following the budget announcement.”
The Budget is expected to announce a consultation on two proposals: devolving power over Sunday trading law to elected mayors, and also to local authorities.
Sunday trading laws allow all stores to open for six hours between 10am and 6pm, while small shops covering less than 3,000 sq ft can open all day.
Under the Chancellor’s plans, which are expected to be taken forward in the Government’s new Enterprise Bill in the autumn, mayors and councils would be handed devolved powers to choose when stores in their areas open on a Sunday.
Eve Fawcett-Moralee, West Lindsey District Council Strategic Lead for Economic Development and Neighbourhoods said: “The proposed changes allowing for opening hours to change on Sundays is one that we will have to get a good balance on.”
“On one hand it’s potentially great for inward investment, particularly for attracting new business to the district, but on the other it could have potential implications for smaller businesses.”
“We should offer a cautious welcome to these proposed ideas, but this would be subject to understanding the details thoroughly. We would welcome local and fair democratic decision-making on a case by case basis.”
“We await the details that will be revealed in the Chancellor’s budget, which will be our best chance to understand and see what the finer details are.”
Residents of Gainsborough have mixed views about the proposal.
Sally Gibson said: “Not so good for us who work in retail, we are allowed family time a well.”
Andrew Davies-Land said: “If they want to I don’t see why not. Most places are already open anyway.”
And Richard Watson said: “Sunday is no longer seen as a day of rest or a religious day.”