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Shops allowed to trade around the clock in December and January

Gaelle Walker
30 November 2020

Shops will be allowed to trade for 24 hours a day in December and January in a major relaxation of the current rules, secretary of state for housing communities and local government Robert Jenrick has said.

Writing in The Telegraph, Jenrick said he wanted councils to waive rules that restrict shops’ opening hours in a bid to help pandemic-hit stores recoup trade.

Shops currently have to wade through a lengthy process under the town and country planning act if they want to extend their hours beyond 9am to 7pm from Monday to Saturday.

The temporary relaxing of the rules would allow shops to decide how long and when they open in December and January including the option of 24/7 service, Jenrick said.

“With these changes local shops can open longer, ensuring more pleasant and safer shopping with less pressure on public transport,” Jenrick said.

How long will be a matter of choice for the shopkeepers and at the discretion of the council, but I suggest we offer these hard-pressed entrepreneurs and businesses the greatest possible flexibility this festive season.

“Therefore as local government secretary I am relaxing planning restrictions and issuing an unambiguous request to councils to allow businesses to welcome us into their glowing stores late into the evening and beyond if wished.

“And those stores and supermarkets will be able to replenish their shelves whenever they wish, with flexible deliveries to keep the streets free for the rest of us when we are out and about.

“In a year when government has necessarily interjected into our lives in ways none of us who value individual liberty would ever have imagined, these changes remind us that we can and must seek every way to reduce the burden of bureaucracy and free our small businesspeople to get on with earning a living and serving the public,” Jenrick added.

The British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) said many independent retailers were likely to welcome the ability to offer more late-night shopping in the weeks running up to and following the festive season.

BIRA chief executive Andrew Goodacre said: “Bira is aware that parge retailers have been pushing for extended hours in December to help deal with the expected Xmas rush to the shops following lockdown.

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 would 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."

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: "With stores open for just three weeks before Christmas, shoppers will welcome the additional opportunities to shop that this bill supports. Such measures will also make shopping safer, building on the hundreds of millions retailers have spent on in-store safety."

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