Current rules limit large stores’ opening times to six hours on Sunday, which means Olympic visitors will miss out on evening shopping – sending out a signal to tourists and foreign investors that Britain is “closed for business,” the chancellor warned.
Relaxing the rules for the eight weeks of the Olympics and Paralympics will bring traders in the capital an extra £360m, according to a New West End Company study.
The move has led to speculation that the rules could be permanently relaxed following the Games, though the Treasury denies a long-term change is in the pipeline.
A study from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in 2006, when the change was last mooted, found that permanently changing the rules would bring the UK a net benefit of £1.4bn per year.
However, the Church of England told City A.M. it would oppose any long-term change, arguing “it is important for family and community life that as many as possible have a common day off every week,” while shadow chancellor Ed Balls said an extensive consultation must be carried out first.