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The Sunday shopper

Potential amendments to legislation could extend Sunday trading hours, changing the dynamics of the High Street

25 Feb 2016 by Emily McCormick

Perhaps I’m being a little nostalgic, but I’m sure I’m not alone in fondly recalling the time when Sunday was largely earmarked by the nation as a 'rest' day, when shop shutters remained firmly shut, and family gathering and long walks were the only thing on the agenda.

While I admit that I was certainly too young to be taking a well-earned weekend break from the Monday to Friday 9–5 back then my Sundays were spent gathering for a buffet lunch at my grandparents' with freshly baked pastries and cakes.

The notion of this day of rest has long since faded to nothing but a distant memory, since retailers began opening their doors on a Sunday two decades ago. In August 1994 new legislation came into play that allowed shops across England and Wales to trade within restricted hours. While for some it may be hard to believe, prior to then it had actually been largely illegal to buy and sell on a Sunday – with a few exceptions of course.

As many High Street retailers began to open for business from 11am–5pm, supermarkets largely opted for 10am–4pm. However, over the years, more companies have begun to take full advantage of the maximum six hours cap, with many opening an hour earlier for ‘browsing.’

However, an amendment made to the Enterprise Bill this month could see local authorities gain the power to extend Sunday trading hours in premises larger than 280sqm if they wish to do so. Practitioners should be aware that if new legislation is passed, Sunday trading rules could be extended further still and those working for large opticians may wish to take note from both an employee and an employer perspective.

With the amendment expected to be in place by this autumn, practitioners may be interested to read more here.

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