Sainsbury’s Chief Executive, Justin King has put forward his opposition to proposed plans to make the temporary changes to Sunday trading hours permanent.
Supermarkets and larger stores saw the trading laws for opening hours relaxed for the duration of the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games that last into September.
Under existing legislation, shops in England and Wales that are more than 3,000 sq ft in size can open for a maximum of six hours between 10:00 and 18:00. However, this rule was relaxed for a seven-week period taking in the two sporting events so that shops could sell to the expected influx of tourists, allowing shops to choose their own opening hours.
However, Mr King said that only 30 of Sainsbury’s 1,000 stores had opted for the extended hours.
He said in a letter to the Sunday Telegraph that: "Maintaining Sunday's special status has great merit for our customers and our colleagues, and relaxing Sunday Trading laws is certainly not a magic answer to economic regeneration."
Business lobbyists have called on the government to look at extending the temporary rules in a bid to help the economy.
Mark Wallace of the IoD said: "We know there are people out of work or underemployed who desperately want more opportunities and we know there is an appetite among consumers to shop during normal hours on Sundays, so it is silly to have a rule that holds both groups back."
However, in a separate letter on the same subject to the same newspaper, the general secretary of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw), the Bishop of Oxford and the chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores expressed their alarm that the change could be made permanent.
John Hannett of Usdaw said: "Longer opening hours won't put more money in the pockets of shoppers."