Sunday trading hours to go local in autumn

Local authorities will have the power to relax Sunday trading hours for large practices under new law

Large opticians should look to their local councils for relaxation of the Sunday trading rules, should new legislation pass.

An amendment included in the Enterprise Bill this month will hand local authorities the power to extend Sunday opening times from the current six hours between 10am–6pm for stores over 280sqm. The government statement on the amendment said the changes were expected to be in place by autumn.

Under the new legislation, councils could also choose to relax trading hours in specified zones within their area.

Staff at any store that does extend its hours under the new rules will have to give one month’s notice to opt out of working longer-than-normal Sunday hours at a large store, or three months at a small shop.

The amendment also reduces the notice period shop workers at large stores have to give to choose not to work any hours on Sunday, from three months to one.

Business Minister, Anna Soubry, said: “Extending Sunday shopping hours has the potential to help businesses and high streets better compete as our shopping habits change.”

Government estimates calculated between 1070 and 2160 jobs could be created in London if Sunday trading in the West End and Knightsbridge was extended by two hours.

However, Labour MP, Carolyn Harris, told the House of Commons that the benefit to shoppers and large retailers of extended hours might come at the cost of staff and small shops. 

She added: “With small traders worried that their only advantage over the supermarkets is the ability to have convenient store Sunday hours and over 91% of USDAW shop-floor workers saying they do not want to work longer hours on a Sunday, just who is going to benefit from these changes?”