Home Rules Business Sale of Goods and Services › Trading Hours for Retailers Law
Trading Hours for Retailers UK Law Guide

The law on normal business hours varies depending on whether it's classed as a small shop or a large shop. This guide explains the trading hours for retailers and Sunday trading restrictions in United Kingdom.

RETAIL TRADING HOURS: Small shops are not subjected to any trading restrictions on their opening hours (based on the amount of floor area).

UK law allows small convenience stores to open 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

They can also trade on Christmas Day (25th of December) and on Easter Sunday. Small shops would not be breaking the law on trading hours for retailers.

Business owners can choose their own Sunday opening hours if the shop floor area measures no more than 280 square metres.

Small shops that operate in England and Wales can open any hour or any day of the week. There are no trading hours restrictions for retailers in Scotland.

Note: Be aware that staff who are working on Sundays may have entitlement to special employment rights.

What is the Size of Small Shops?

In the United Kingdom, the size of a small shop is one with a floor area measuring up to and including 280 square metres (3,000 square feet).

Note: The area includes all parts of the shop used to display goods as well as serving customers. You cannot flout the size restrictions by closing off parts of the shop on certain days of the week.

Rules for Large Shops (England and Wales)

A large shop is one that has a floor area over 280 square metres (3,000 square feet). In this case, UK law states that the shop:

  • Must close on Easter Sunday.
  • Must close on Christmas Day.
  • May open on Sundays between 10 am and 6 pm but only for a period of six (6) consecutive hours.

Note: The Sunday Trading Act 1994 places some limits and restrictions for retailers with large size shops and the legal opening hours.

Council Permission for Loading and Delivering

Large shops may need to get permission from the local authority to load and unload goods before 9:00 am on a Sunday.

Note: There are financial penalties for trading during illegal opening hours. Any large shops that open when they should be closed can get fined for doing so.

Employment Laws for Restricted Opening Times

Workers may have Sunday working rights if they work in a shop that opens on a normal Sunday. But, they would not get automatic right to have public holidays off, including Christmas Day and Easter Sunday. An exception may apply if their employment contract states otherwise.
As a rule, receiving extra pay for working on a public holiday would be optional. Even so, an exception may apply if a worker’s contract of employment states otherwise.

Exemptions from Sunday Trading Laws

Certain types of large shops, having a floor space greater than 280 square metres, are exempt from the Sunday trading restrictions, such as:

  • Exhibition stands that are selling goods or products.
  • Farm shops that sell their own produce as the main products.
  • Outlets based at service stations.
  • Outlets inside airport and railway stations.
  • Outlets that, on the whole, sell bicycle or motor supplies and accessories.
  • Registered pharmacies that only sell medicinal products and medical and surgical appliances.
  • Suppliers of goods or products to aircraft or to sea-going vessels on arrival at (or departure from) an airport, a harbour, or a port.

Note: Retailers with restricted Sunday trading hours need to display what they are inside and outside of the shop.

Law on Trading Hours for Retailers in United Kingdom