Allow all garden centre to open on Easter Sunday, says Horticultural Trades Association

The HTA urged the Government to relax trading laws

Easter Sunday is one of the few days of the year when many shops are required to close their doors to customers - but garden centres are urging ministers to end restrictions that prevent them opening on the holiday.

Trading laws mean that shops – including nurseries - over 280 square metres (3,000 square feet) in England and Wales must close on Easter Sunday and Christmas Day.

But the Horticultural Trades Association said the rules are archaic and are costing the industry an estimated £75 million a year in lost sales.

Under the Sunday Trading Act 1994, large shops can open on every other Sunday in the year but only for six consecutive hours between 10am and 6pm, while shops under 280 square metres (3,000 square feet) can open at any day or hour during the year. Scotland is not included in the current legislation.

The HTA argued that gardening centres were integral “leisure destinations” for many families and should therefore be allowed to stay open on Easter Sunday.

In a statement it said: “Gardening has been proven to help us improve our mental and physical health, gets us outside and helps us connect with other people in our community. Garden centres play a key role in facilitating us to do so and give us the opportunity to explore the vast variety of plants and flowers Mother Nature has to offer.”

The HTA added that the industry was not attempting  “to undermine the arguments for keeping Sunday special and to protect workers from disruption to their family life”.

It said: “Rather, the HTA is aiming to contribute to stress-free family and social life by making it possible for them to enjoy garden centres for longer, particularly during planting season.”

A spokeswoman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills told the BBC that “the Government has no current plans for a relaxation of the regulations”.