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Sunday trading

The sale of goods from retail premises is governed by the Sunday Trading Act 1994. This Act restricts certain large shops from opening for sale to a maximum of 6 hours between 10am and 6pm. It is up to the owners of those shops to which the Act applies to decide what their opening hours are and, since February 2004, there is no requirement for owners to notify the Local Authority what hours they have decided on.

A large shop is a retail shop with an internal sales area of at least 280 square metres, (approximately 3000 square feet). Store rooms, staff facilities and external displays are excluded and a large shop cannot become a small shop on a Sunday by reducing its sales area.

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This Act restricts certain large shops from opening for sale to a maximum of 6 hours between 10am and 6pm. It is up to the owners of those shops to which the Act applies to decide what their opening hours are.

A Notice must be displayed inside and outside the shop stating the Sunday Trading hours and shop may not open on Easter Sunday or Christmas Day if these days fall on a Sunday.

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The following shops are excluded from control:

  • Farms Shops (selling mainly their own produce)
  • Off Licences
  • Motor & Bike Supplies and Accessory retailers
  • Pharmacies
  • Shops at Airports, Railway Stations and Motorway Services and most shops at Ports
  • Petrol Filling Stations
  • Stands at Exhibitions
  • Shops occupied by persons observing the Jewish Sabbath (closing on Saturdays) provided that notice has been given to the council
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Shops to which the Act applies may only unload delivery vehicles before 9am, with the consent of the Local Authority.

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Shops to which the act applies are allowed half an hour to clear tills once the shop has closed.

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The Sunday Trading Act also contains provisions for the protection of shop workers rights. However, the Local Authority has no enforcement powers in relation to these provisions. If you have a concern regarding shop workers right you should contact a Trade Union, Solicitor or Citizen’s advice Bureau.

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Infringements of Sunday Trading should be reported to your Local Authority.

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There are no restrictions on the sale of meals for immediate consumption in restaurants or at takeaways.

Separate legislation, such as the Licensing Act 2003, may impose controls on opening hours or the sale of alcohol and late night hot foot.

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Last updated: 18 October 2016 | Last reviewed: 18 October 2016