Sunday trading laws

Find out how long you can trade for on Sundays and Christmas Day, including advice for street market traders and car boot sales.

Under the Sunday Trading Act 1994 and the Christmas Day (Trading) Act 2004, the limits on shop opening hours are:

  • Small shops (under 280 square metres/3,000 square feet) - no restrictions on opening
  • Large shops (over 280 square metres/3,000 square feet) - Monday to Saturday - no restrictions; Sunday - opening for six continual hours only, between 10am and 6pm
  • Easter Sunday and Christmas Day – large shops must be closed, including garden centres.
Large shops in England and Wales are no longer required to give prior written notification to the local authority of their Sunday opening hours or change in these hours. 
There is no restriction on the types of goods that can be sold on Sundays, although certain goods, such as alcohol, have separate regulations under the Licensing Act 2003.
The Sunday Trading Act 1994 regulates shop opening hours. It does not regulate street markets or car boot sales. These are subject to separate local planning legislation.
The protections in the Sunday Trading Act 1994 reflected the fact that the conditions of shop workers were being changed by legislation.

The law had created new circumstances for employees, which were contrary to their previous expectations. 

These provisions were consolidated into the Employment Rights Act 1996, whereby shop workers (other than those employed to work solely on Sundays) have the right to refuse to work on Sundays.