With the UK government’s plans to extend Sunday trading laws in England and Wales under threat following an announcement from the SNP that it will join Labour in opposing the proposal, I urge policymakers to stand firm and put consumers first.

The British Council of Shopping Centres (BCSC), the authoritative voice of the retail property industry with more than 2,500 members - including developers, retailers, agents, consultants and public sector managers - has been vocal in leading support for the relaxation of Sunday trading laws following long-term engagement on the issue with industry and members.

As chief executive of BCSC, I believe it is the small changes that promise to unlock sizeable benefits for local shoppers, communities and retailers - in terms of the freedom to shop and trade more freely and boosting local businesses and economies.

On behalf of members and the wider industry, through engagement with officials, policymakers and decision-makers, the BCSC will continue to put itself front and centre in championing the relaxation of Sunday trading laws, helping to guide policy reform and strengthening the sector’s role as a major contributor to the UK economy.

The BCSC’s own monthly footfall data shows that the number of shoppers increases out of office hours, so it follows that more flexible Sunday trading will strengthen and drive trade in town centres, helping to protect their vibrancy, vitality and position at the heart of local communities.

John Coyne, chief executive, BCSC