Retailers step up Sunday trade bid

The lobby group for retailers aiming to extend Sunday opening hours is to step up its campaign by bringing in a PR agency.

Deregulate, formed last year under chairman David Ramsden – the former head of The Shopping Hours Reform Council, whose campaigning in the early 1990s resulted in the present six-hour limit – is likely to appoint in the next four weeks.

Members of the group, which declined to comment on the pitch, include Ikea, Asda and The Horticultural Trades Association.

Deregulate wants to overhaul the Sunday Trading Act 1994 – of which Ramsden was one of the principal architects – and allow garden-centres, furniture stores and high streets to benefit from longer opening hours.

The brief is likely to involve lobbying of the Government, as well as building public support.

Deregulate was dealt a blow last month when Tesco pulled its support from the campaign. Ramsden said its withdrawal would not derail the drive.

The Sunday Trading Act met fierce opposition from the Lord’s Day Observance Society and shopworkers’ union Usdaw in 1994.

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