During Lords questions, the Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skill Baroness Wilcox stated that the government would not allow stores that are over 3,000 sq ft in size to open longer than six hours on a Sunday or offer a temporary relaxation over the Christmas period.
Earlier this year retail groups featuring Topshop, Boots and Burton wrote to the then-Business Secretary Peter Mandelson, asking for a change in the rules given that Boxing Day would fall on a Sunday this year and that restricted opening hours would significantly impact their sales. Stores under 3,000 sq ft are not affected by these restrictions and are free to open all day Sunday.
An Association of Convenience Stores survey conducted at the same time as the request by the retail groups revealed that 76% of the public supported the current trading laws and that 85% opposed a relaxation for Boxing Day trading.
Wilcox also dismissed requests that all shops should close on Sundays to make it a work-free day, stating that Sunday working “brings significant benefits to employers, consumers and employees alike in terms of convenience, flexibility and availability of work”.