By Jonathan Davies
Sunday trading laws could be relaxed under plans expected to be announced by the Chancellor George Osborne in the Summer Budget.
The plans mean that larger shops in England and Wales could be allowed to open for more than six hours.
Currently, smaller stores are allowed to stay open all day. But shops over 3,000 sq ft can only open for six hours.
According to the New West End Company, which represents 600 businesses in London, an extra two hours of trading could create 3,000 jobs and £200 million in added sales each year.
Any changes would be made at local level, Mr Osborne is expected to announce. It means local councils will have the say on whether or not stores are allowed to stay open for longer.
The Chancellor said: "There is some evidence that transactions for Sunday shopping are actually growing faster than those for Saturday.
"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.
"But this won't be right for every area, so I want to devolve the power to make this decision to mayors and local authorities," he added.
The Association of Convenience Stores said longer Sunday trading would lead to "inconsistency and confusion" for businesses and shoppers.
Chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, James Lowman, said: "The short period of time that small stores are open while large stores are shut is a crucial advantage for convenience stores, most of which are owned by small businesses.
"Liberalising Sunday trading hours would make some small stores unviable."
John Allan, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses said: “The FSB remains concerned about the impact of any change to Sunday trading rules on smaller retailers. As well as assessing the potential impact of these measures, the Government should be taking a wider holistic view to see what else can be done to support these businesses.
“Bringing forward reforms to business rates is an immediate priority. We should also do more on liberalising licensing laws, easing planning restrictions and on improving customers’ access to parking. All are areas which are currently doing more to hold back the high street then Sunday trading.