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Relaxation of Sunday trading laws for London 2012 - are you legal?

View profile for Oonagh McKinney
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In a bid to take advantage of tourists heading for London, The Government will relax Sunday trading laws during the Olympics and Paralympics. This is designed to show that Britain is open for business. However, this may not benefit all retailers.

Sunday trading was prohibited from the 1950s. This changed in 1994 with the introduction of new rules. All shops with a floor space of less than 280m² are free to open on Sundays without restriction. Those shops with an internal retail floor area exceeding 280m² are limited to trading for a continuous period of maximum six hours between 10a.m. and 6p.m.

From Sunday, 22nd of July 2012, large stores can remain open for longer on the eight Sundays that fall during the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. The relaxation of Sunday trading rules is not limited geographically: it applies to all shops equally across the country. Retailers need to consider how the Sunday Trading Act applies to their business and also whether there are any conditions attached to the planning permission for their shop which may restrict these additional opening hours.

  • Retailers who lease their shop premises also need to consider the following:
  • Does the shop lease contain a clause requiring the tenant to stay open for trade during all times permissible by law, or at all times that other retailers in the area do? • Does the lease contain any provisions which restrict trading days/hours of trade?
  • Does the lease require you to see the landlord’s consent to erect signs to advertise additional opening hours?
  • Does the tenant pay annual rent based on turnover (known as turnover rent provisions). If so, what impact will additional opening hours have on rent?
  • If the shop forms part of a shopping centre are there any additional charges which the landlord can apply for the provision of out of hours access and services?

Oonagh McKinney, Commercial Property Partner, says “While it seems likely that shops in London, and in particular official Olympic merchandise stores, will benefit from the change, this may not be the case for our local retailers in this region. However, there is speculation that this could be a first step towards a more permanent relaxation of Sunday trading laws. This may be welcomed by some retailers, but others may find the likely profits do not exceed the additional costs.”

Business Minister, Mark Prisk, has stated that this is not a test case for a permanent change of the rules, but if the 8 week period is judged a success, there could be pressure to move towards this. Opinions are mixed over whether this would stimulate growth and create jobs, or harm smaller stores.

For a free initial meeting please call 01202 499255 and Oonagh or a member of her team will be happy to discuss any questions you may have.