Trading hours for retailers: the law

Small shops in England and Wales can open any day or hour. There are no trading hours restrictions in Scotland.

Size of a small shop

A small shop is one that measures up to and including 280 square metres.

This area includes all parts of the shop you use to display goods and serve customers. You can’t get around the restrictions by closing off parts of your shop on certain days.

Rules for large shops in England and Wales

Shops over 280 square metres:

  • can open on Sundays but only for 6 consecutive hours between 10am and 6pm
  • must close on Easter Sunday
  • must close on Christmas Day

If your Sunday trading hours are restricted, you must clearly display what they are inside and outside your shop.


Shops exempt from the Sunday trading restrictions for large shops include:

  • airport and railway station outlets
  • service station outlets
  • registered pharmacies selling only medicinal products and medical and surgical appliances
  • farms selling mainly their own produce
  • outlets wholly or mainly selling motor or bicycle supplies and accessories
  • suppliers of goods to aircraft or sea-going vessels on arrival at, or departure from, a port, harbour or airport
  • exhibition stands selling goods

Loading and deliveries

If you have a large shop (over 280 square metres) you’ll need to check whether you require permission from your local authority to load and unload goods before 9am on Sunday.


Large shops that open when they’re not supposed to can be fined.

Employment rules for restricted opening

Workers in any shop that opens on a normal Sunday may have special employment rights.

There is no automatic right for workers to have public holidays off, including Christmas Day and Easter Sunday, unless it’s in their contract.

Extra pay for working public holidays is optional, unless it is stated in an employee’s contract.