British stores will be open for longer now that ministers are to go ahead with allowing councils in England and Wales to relax Sunday trading laws.
Measures that will affect Sunday opening hours will be put forward as amendments to the Enterprise Bill, Business Secretary Sajid Javid announced on Tuesday.
Small shops up to 280 sq m are currently entitled to open at any given time but on Sundays, larger stores are restricted to six hours of trading between 10am and 6pm.
Javid said the move would allow local authorities to “help struggling High Streets” and that the decision to change Sunday trading hours would be “entirely local”.
“These new powers are about giving local areas the choice to extend Sunday trading hours to meet the needs of their local businesses and communities,” Javid said. “Extending Sunday trading hours has the potential to help businesses and high streets across the UK better compete as our shopping habits change.”
“If the people of Bromsgrove or Barking say they want to see longer Sunday opening hours, who are we here in Westminster to stand in their way?” Javid asked.
Under the proposals, local authorities will be able to restrict the longer hours to certain zones – such as High Streets and city centres, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said.
Shop workers who wish to “opt out” of working on Sundays will be able to do so, for example on religious or family grounds. Staff in larger shops who would prefer not to work on Sundays altogether will be able to give their employer just one month’s notice, rather than three.