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The 'Sunday Trading Act, 1994' sets out rules about opening certain shops 'for retail sale' on Sundays. Further information on opening hours for retailers is available from GOV.UK.

See information on Sunday trading licences.

Sunday trading restrictions

Sunday trading restrictions depend on the size of shop and the type of goods on sale. All small shops and 'exempt large shops' (such as registered pharmacies selling medicines only, farm shops, service stations and petrol filling stations) may open on Sunday without restriction.

The act defines a ‘large shop’ where the part of the building used for the serving of customers and displaying goods is greater than 280m2 (3,014ft2).

Large shops:

  • may open for a period of 6 continuous hours between 10am and 6pm
  • are not allowed to trade on Easter Day or Christmas Day if it falls on Sunday (small shops are not restricted)
  • must display Sunday opening hours on a sign in a clearly visible position, inside and outside the shop

Sunday Trading guidelines

If you own a large shop and wish to change the hours you trade on Sunday

You no longer need to notify your local authority about changes in your Sunday trading hours - this requirement was removed in February 2004, by the Regulatory Reform (Sunday Trading) Order 2004.

If you own a restaurant

Sunday trading restrictions do not apply to you as the Sunday Trading Act does not apply to the sale of meals, refreshments or intoxicating liquor for consumption on the premises on which they are sold. It also doesn't apply to the sale of meals or refreshments prepared to order for immediate consumption off those premises.

Customer 'browsing time' before trading hours

Sunday trading legislation does not mention this practice, which has developed in recent years. Whilst it is not an offence to open the doors to the public prior to 10am, retail sales must not take place before this time.

Customers in large shops after closing time

If you serve a customer after the end of your opening hours, you will be committing an offence unless you can prove that the customer was in the shop before the closing time, and left no later than 30 minutes after that time.

Also see

Public Protection - Trading Standards

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