01 Dec 2020

Retailers granted more flexibility in opening hours

Independent retailers in England are being granted greater flexibility in their opening hours over the Christmas period.

Housing Minister Robert Jenrick announced that shops in England will be allowed to extend their opening hours for the rest of December and into January so that social distancing measures can be adhered to and that shopping remains safe.

Retailers can extend their daily opening hours from Monday to Saturday to help spread footfall and give shoppers greater flexibility in choosing when they shop.

Restrictions on shop opening hours on these days have been removed. However, many retailers are subject to local controls through planning conditions which restrict opening times, particularly in the early morning, evening and at night.

He said: "Given the exceptional circumstances as a result of the coronavirus, the purpose of this Written Ministerial Statement, which comes into effect from December 2, is to make clear that, as a matter of urgency, local planning authorities should take a positive approach to their engagement with retailers to ensure planning controls are not a barrier to the temporary extension of retail opening times in December and January.

"Where appropriate, local planning authorities should also highlight this temporary relaxation to retailers in their area so that they can take advantage of longer opening hours if they wish to do so."

As part of his statement to the House of Commons he added: "... there is at present no evidence of significant increased risk of virus transmission in retail premises. The Government asked non-essential retailers to close as part of wider restrictions to limit social mixing in November, once those restrictions have been lifted consumers and retail staff can have confidence to return to our high streets."

Commenting on the move, Bira's CEO Andrew Goodacre said: "This makes sense to avoid large crowds and queues, thus keeping shoppers safe.

"As regards 24-hour opening, supermarkets have had that for several years now. We do not expect independent retailer to open for 24 hours, but they will welcome the opportunity to do more late night shopping in the run up to the very important festive period.

“This is the most important December for retail and retailers need flexibility with regards their opening hours."

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