RETAILERS across south Essex are hoping cash in on the Olympics, thanks to longer opening hours on Sundays.

To coincide with the 2012 Games, the Government has relaxed trading laws for shops with a floor space of more than 280 square metres.

Usually, they are subject to a six-hour restriction on Sundays, but this has been put on hold until the end of the Paralympics on September 9.

Mike Horton, marketing manager at Basildon ’s Eastgate Centre , said shops at the mall would be taking advantage and opening from 9am to 6pm.

He added: “Retailers think this is a really good thing.

“We asked our retailers a while ago what they wanted to do and many decided to go with the longer hours.”

Tony Allerston, customer service manager at the Victoria shopping centre, in Southend, said shops, including Next, HMV, Argos and New Look, would be extending hours from 10am to 6pm.

He said: “We hope these hours will encourage shoppers to come to the centre. We are expecting to trade well during the Olympics and these longer hours can only help that.”

However, some smaller shops, which are not restricted on Sundays, fear the temporary change will hit their custom and divert shoppers to the larger chain stores.

Alan Dadswell, 56, director of Toys ‘n’ Tuck, in Southend, Rayleigh and Billericay , believes the supermarkets will benefit the most.

He said: “It is a terrible idea.

“Supermarkets and large chain stores will take an even bigger share of our business.

“They can afford to open longer and will take more money and it won’t do me any favours.”

However, James Taylor, owner of Taylor and Son jewellers, in York Road, Southend, doesn’t think the move will impact on independent traders.

He said: “All they are doing is increasing staff costs.

“I can’t see it being of any benefit to any shop, big or small.

“If anything, it will force shops to open when they don’t want to, if they see others doing the same.”

Ray Johnston, who owns a watch stall in the Knightswick Shopping Centre, Canvey , added: “I think it is a bit unfair for all those shops where people will be expected to work longer hours on a Sunday.

“People should be able to go home at 4pm and enjoy at least some part of what is known as the day of rest.

“I do not think I will be opening longer.”