British finance minister George Osborne will use his first post-election budget statement to propose relaxing Sunday trading rules to help high street shops compete better with online retailers.
Under current laws, large stores in England and Wales can open for only six hours on a Sunday. The rules were suspended during the London Olympics in 2012, a change the government said had led to a surge in sales.
In his budget statement on Wednesday, Osborne will announce a consultation into devolving the decision over Sunday trading rules to local mayors and councils.
“It is clear that there is still a growing appetite for shopping on a Sunday. There is some evidence that transactions for Sunday shopping are actually growing faster than those for Saturday,” Osborne said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The rise of online shopping, which people can do round the clock, also means more retailers want to be able to compete by opening for longer at the weekend.”
Citing research by the New West End Company, which promotes one of the British capital’s key shopping districts, the government said extending Sunday trading by two hours in London alone would generate 3000 jobs and more than 200 million pounds a year in extra income.