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Sunday Trading Act

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The Sunday Trading Act 1994 regulates the Sunday opening hours of large shops and prohibits them from opening on Easter Sunday.

A large shop is a retail shop with an internal sales area of at least 280 square metres (approximately 3,000 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.

The Act restricts opening for sale to a maximum of six hours between 10.00 and 18.00. It is up to the owners of the relevant shops to set the opening hours. 

Since the Regulatory Reform (Sunday Trading) Order 2004 came into effect in February 2004, there is no requirement for shop owners to notify the local authority of these hours. This Order also removed the requirement on local authorities to maintain a register of such premises and their opening hours on Sundays. However, local authorities do still have a responsibility to enforce compliance with the Act.

Occupiers of large shops are required to display their Sunday trading hours both within and outside of the shops.

The following shops are excluded from control:

  • Farms shops (selling mainly their own produce);
  • Off licences;
  • Motor and 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.