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Sunday trading powers to be granted to local councils

The Government is set to devolve Sunday trading laws to local councils in England and Wales, it has emerged. The move, announced by Business Secretary Sajid Javid, is expected to benefit high streets and city centres.

The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills revealed that authorities will have the power to ‘zone’ any relaxation, effectively aiding struggling high streets by permitting them to stay open for longer.

Under the current laws, large shops are only permitted to trade for up to six hours between 10am and 6pm, while small shops are unrestricted.

Sunday trading is already devolved in Scotland, where retailers do not face such limits.

The new powers are set to be brought forward within the Enterprise Bill, which is currently being finalised by the Government.

Additionally, the plans also include extra freedoms for shop workers: those working in England, Scotland and Wales will be given the option to ‘opt out’ of working on Sundays if they so choose to.

Whilst online shopping has increased considerably in popularity, Sunday trading laws have not been changed in over 20 years, significantly reducing retailers’ abilities to compete with their online competitors.

Furthermore, the Government also expects local councils to weigh up any economic needs of their area, taking into consideration the impact it could have within the community.

The Business Secretary stated: ‘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. It is local people who will make the decision.

‘Extending Sunday trading hours has the potential to help businesses and high streets across the UK better compete as our shopping habits change.’