Shops in struggling high streets would be allowed to open all day on Sundays while megastores in retail parks would be excluded from the longer hours, under plans to be announced by the Government. The move is aimed at breathing fresh life into town centre stores facing mounting pressure from online competitors as well as from out-of-town supermarkets.
George Osborne, the Chancellor, signalled the largest overhaul of Sunday trading laws for 20 years in last month’s Budget. Announcing proposals to devolve decisions about trading hours in England and Wales to councils and elected mayors, he predicted that the change would result in a major boost to the economy.
In a consultation document, the Government suggests that Sunday opening could vary in different parts of towns and cities. It says councils and mayors could “choose to allow longer Sunday trading in specific localities where they want to grow their economy or attract more shopper footfall, in support of their local economic development strategies”.
The Government said the initiative was designed to build on policies to support high street retailers, including cuts in business rates for small shops and ending “over-zealous” parking practices.
Larger retailers are currently only allowed to trade for six hours between 10am and 6pm on Sundays, although shops with less than 3,000sq ft of floor space can open all day.
Ministers have suggested sweeping away the restrictions if the move is favoured by local council leaders.
They have cited research which suggests extending Sunday trading by two hours in London would create nearly 3,000 jobs in the capital, and generate more than £200m a year in extra income.
But union leaders have vowed to campaign against longer opening hours and Labour leadership candidates Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Jeremy Corbyn have condemned the planned liberalisation.
Consultation on the moves, which will be included in an Enterprise Bill in the autumn, will last until 16 September.
They do not apply to Scotland, where trading laws are devolved to Holyrood.Reuse content