Belfast City Council drops extended Sunday trading plans
Belfast City Council has dropped plans to extend Sunday trading.
Councillors defeated moves for large shops to open all day in the city centre on up to 18 days a year.
Smaller traders welcomed the decision.
Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts said: "This would have given a further unfair competitive advantage to large supermarkets and disadvantaged local small shops, whose Sunday morning trade is vital for their survival.
"Furthermore, this vote puts down an important marker to the other 10 local councils not to consider relaxing Sunday trading through the back door of resort status."
The council was considering whether to designate the city centre as a holiday resort.
The label allows large shops in tourist areas to avail of the additional visitor trade over the summer months.
A range of areas and towns in Northern Ireland have been designated and remain as "holiday resorts" for this purpose including Londonderry, Newry, Kilkeel, Portrush, Portstewart and Ballycastle.
Paddy Lillis, Usdaw shopworkers' union deputy general secretary, said current Sunday trading arrangements were a fair compromise.
"Retailers can trade, customers can shop, staff can work; whilst Sunday remains a special day, different to other days, and shopworkers can spend some time with their family.
"Our members in large stores remain absolutely opposed to extended Sunday trading.
"The number one reason for their opposition is the detrimental effect this would have on their family life.
"They cite real concerns about the additional pressure they would come under to work on Sundays if shops are open longer."
Gordon McElroy, president of Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce, said he was disappointed.
"The chamber represents the entire business community of Belfast - from small independent retailers, coffee shops, bars and restaurants to large multi-nationals - and with their absolute best interests at heart, we believe that extended Sunday trading would positively benefit trade in the city, which would have a cumulative effect across the whole of Northern Ireland.
"The chamber will continue to lobby for Belfast to be designated a holiday resort, which we believe will not only help attract additional visitors to the city, but provide life and vitality to our city for those who currently visit but are frustrated by the lack of business and attractions which are open on Sundays before 1pm."