Sunday trading rules to be decided by local councils

The Government is consulting on whether local authorities should have the power to allow longer Sunday trading hours to large stores in their areas, including garden centres.

Image: MorgueFile
Image: MorgueFile

Under the current Sunday Trading Act 1994, large shops over 280 sq m/3,000 sq ft are restricted to opening for only six continuous hours between 10am to 6pm.

The consultation document calls for the public's views on whether Sunday trading rules should be devolved to local areas, such as cities run by elected mayors or local authorities. The consultation is open until 16 September and applies to England and Wales.

Restrictions on trading on Christmas and Easter Sunday will stay in place.

The Horticultural Trades Association is encouraging members to respond to the Government consultation, and is also asking for feedback and views to inform its own response. Email your thoughts to before 31 August.

HTA chief executive Carol Paris said: "As we have emphasised all along a relaxation of the Sunday Trading laws is all about choice - choice for the public to shop when they would like and choice for garden retailers to open when they like.

"With online trading allowing people to shop 24/7 it is ridiculous that someone can sit and eat in a garden centre restaurant (which are exempt from the law) on a Sunday and order garden product online but not actually purchase products in store."

Paris added: "We have worked closely with Government to ensure that the voice of the garden industry is heard and it is reassuring that this has been reflected in their consultation announcement."

The Government's announcement includes a quote from Hillview Garden Centres CEO Boyd Douglas-Davies, who said: "Our customers want to be able to shop on a Sunday at a time that suits them and their lifestyle. At both ends of the day we have to deal with frustrated visitors at all of our centres.

"In the morning the ‘early-birds’ want to get on with the gardening and later in the day, visitors are forced to leave the centre at a time that feels like it is only mid-afternoon. Sunday is by far and away the busiest day of the week – this demonstrates that customers want to shop on Sundays."

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