The government is seeking views on whether decision-making on Sunday trading should be devolved to local authorities and elected mayors.
In a consultation launched on 5 August and running until 16 September, the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills said: “There are many factors to consider in deciding whether to extend Sunday trading hours and in some places communities may prefer to retain the current limited Sunday trading hours.
“People who live, work and do business locally know best what their area needs to prosper and grow. That is why this government believes such decisions are best made at the local level.”
The consultation document says it has been estimated that extending Sunday trading hours would produce economic benefits worth £1.4 billion a year.
Sunday opening hours for stores with a floor area of more than 280 sq m/3,000 sq ft are restricted but smaller stores can open all day.
The government is not proposing to change the restrictions on trading on Christmas Day or Easter Sunday.
John Hannett, general secretary of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers, which opposes moves to relax Sunday trading, said: “The Sunday Trading Act is a great British compromise, which has worked well for over 20 years and gives everyone a little bit of what they want.
“The truth is that opening shops for longer increases overheads for the same amount through the tills. That would harm productivity and could cost jobs, as retailers try to recover their losses.
“The potential damage to profitability and the chaos of different regulatory regimes across the country gives retailers yet another headache in an already difficult trading environment. The government would be wise to pull back from this unpopular and unworkable devolution of trading hours.”