The Keep Sunday Special (KSS) campaign is urging retailers to attend a mass lobby of parliament next week, in a bid to persuade MPs to vote against changes to Sunday trading legislation.
On Monday 29 February, KSS will lobby parliament as legislation devolving Sunday opening hours to local authorities reaches a crucial stage.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister David Cameron revived plans to allow shops to open for longer on Sundays, despite opposition from MPs and trade unions.
The lobby will call on MPs from pivotal constituencies in the Sunday trading debate to hear from retailers, shop workers, faith groups and industry experts on the damage they claim changes to Sunday trading rules will do to the UK economy and society.
The proposed government changes would allow stores bigger than 3,000 sq ft to stay open for more than the current six hours on a Sunday, with the power to make the final trading decision devolved to councils and mayors.
Councils and MPs
KSS members include the Association of Convenience Stores, shop workers union Usdaw, the Federation of Wholesale Distributors, the National Federation of Retail Newsagents and the Church of England.
150 local councils and 40 MPs wrote a letter to The Telegraph last week, calling on the government to press ahead with a compromise measure to allow councils to decide on zones for relaxing Sunday trading hours.
The British Infrastructure Group has also published a report, Sunday Trading: Saving the Great British High Street. It concludes that modernised trading laws could provide economic benefits worth £1.4bn annually to the overall UK economy and £64 to each family.
The world has changed
The group wrote that while the world has changed since 1994, when Sunday trading laws were last modified, the laws have not kept up: “Yet while 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.”
Current rules state that shops over 280sqm can open on Sundays but only for six consecutive hours between 10am and 6pm.