Sunday Trading Restrictions

Since 1994 there have been no restrictions on shopping hours - apart from Sundays - following a decision by Parliament to deregulate shop opening times by the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994.  This repealed the Shops Act 1950 which had previously governed the hours at which shops could open.  All shops are now able to open without restrictions between Monday to Saturday.

Restrictions on opening times on Sundays are now, under the Sunday Trading Act 1994, confined to large shops (defined under the Act as those having an internal sales area of over 280 square metres), which may open for six hours between 10 am and 6 pm and are required to remain closed on Easter Sunday.  Small shops are not covered by these restrictions and can open freely.  The Sunday Trading Act also includes specific measures to protect the rights of shop workers who do not wish to work on Sunday.

Apart from the restrictions mentioned above it is left to individual owners to determine their opening hours in the light of customer demand.

The Regulatory Reform (Sunday Trading) Order 2004 has now removed the requirement for large shops to notify local authorities of their Sunday trading hours or of any changes.  Large shops are still limited to trading for a maximum of six hours between 10 am and 6 pm on Sundays and must display these hours inside and outside the premises.

Easter Sunday and Christmas Day

The Christmas Day (Trading) Act 2004 prohibits large shops from opening on Christmas Day.

The Sunday Trading Act 1994 requires large shops - those where the relevant floor area exceeds 280 square metres, to close on Easter Sunday.


There are certain exemptions to the 280 rule which are as follows:

  • Any shop at a designated airport, in a railway station, at a highway service area or at any petrol filling station;
  • Any shop where the trade or business carried on consists wholly or mainly of the sale of alcohol / motor or cycle supplies and accessories;
  • Registered pharmacies which are not open for the retail sale of any goods other than medical and surgical goods;
  • Farm shops where the trade consists wholly, or mainly, of the sale of produce (crops or reared animals) from that farm.

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