Sunday trading

Shop open sign - Sunday trading

Only some shops are allowed by law to open on Sundays and at Easter or at Christmas, and fines exist to enforce these laws.

The law says that on a Sunday:

  • Small shops – retail businesses with a floor area of less than 280 sq metres 3,014 sq feet) – can open all day.
  • Larger shops – retail businesses with a floor area of over 280 sq metres (3,014 sq feet) – can open for no more than six hours between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Some large shops are exempt, e.g. pharmacies, motorway services, restaurants and businesses providing services. There are no regulations for street markets and car boot sales.

The Sunday Trading Act 1994 regulates shop opening hours, not what goods can be sold. However, there are separate laws that cover the sale of certain goods, such as alcohol.

Opening hours on Easter Sunday and at Christmas

The law says that:

  • Small shops – retail businesses with a floor area of less than 280 sq metres 3,014 sq feet) – can open all day.
  • Larger shops – retail businesses with a floor area of over 280 sq metres (3,014 sq feet) – are not allowed to open on Easter Sunday or Christmas Day.

Some large businesses are exempt e.g. pharmacies, motorway services, restaurants, and businesses providing services.

There is a fine of £50,000 for breaking the Sunday Trading Act 1994 or the Christmas Day (Trading) Act 2004.

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