- Shops able to open for longer in run up to Christmas and through January sales
- Extended opening hours will help keep shoppers and retail staff safe
In a much-needed boost for the high street, retailers will be able to extend their daily opening hours from Monday to Saturday in the run up to Christmas and through January, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced today (30 November 2020).
From Wednesday 2 December, as England returns to a system of tiered restrictions, all non-essential retail across England will be able to reopen, and planning rules limiting opening hours will be eased to allow shops to be open for longer Monday to Saturday.
While being a boost to business, these measures will help ease transport pressures and make socially distanced shopping easier by giving people greater flexibility to choose when they shop and avoid peak times.
The majority of shop owners have already made their premises Covid-secure. Allowing retailers to extend their opening hours from Monday to Saturday will mean an even safer shopping experience in the run up to Christmas and through the January sales, when shops are usually much busier.
This builds on the extra government support to help businesses and protect jobs. Including an extension of the furlough scheme at 80% until the end of March, grants of up to £3,000 for premises that must close, and £1.1 billion for councils to enable them to support businesses in their area.
Communities Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:
None of us entirely enjoy navigating the crowds, especially now when social distancing is so important for controlling the pandemic. So with these changes your local shops can open longer, ensuring more pleasant and safer shopping with less pressure on public transport.
How long will be a choice for shopkeepers and at the discretion of the council. Councils should offer these hard pressed entrepreneurs and businesses the greatest possible flexibility this festive season.
Consumer Minister Paul Scully said:
"Our number one priority over the Christmas period is to keep the public safe, while ensuring businesses can reopen in a safe and Covid-secure way.Extending opening hours for retailers across England will give people more choice about when they can shop, and businesses will have more time to serve their customers safely during the busy festive period."
Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said:
With just over 3 weeks until Christmas, shoppers will welcome the additional opportunities to shop that the government’s statement supports. Such measures will give more flexibility for shoppers about when and how they shop and we’d encourage everyone to avoid peak times where possible, not leave it all to the last minute and follow all the safety guidelines.
If councils suspect shops are not upholding the high Covid-secure standards set by the government since the beginning of the pandemic, they have the power to take action in order to keep the public safe.
Shoppers also have an important role to play in keeping everyone safe. Customers should:
- maintain social distancing and adopt “hands/space/face”
- follow safety advice inside and outside shops
- consider when they shop and take advance of extended opening hours - try to avoid peak times where possible and don’t leave it all to the last minute
- respect our hardworking shopworkers
The government continues to work closely with councils, retailers and Public Health England to plan for a safe reopening of shops.
Under the government’s new tiered restrictions, in every tier, all shops will be allowed to reopen, giving people the opportunity to shop in person for gifts for family and friends during the festive season.
Restrictions may be imposed by individual local authorities when they grant planning permission for individual stores. Typically, such conditions limit the opening hours that a business may trade, for example, from 9am to 7pm unless a separate arrangement is agreed in writing with the relevant local planning authority.
In normal circumstances, a retailer would need to apply to remove or vary such a condition under section 73 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. This can be a lengthy process, taking several weeks or more.
The measures announced today make it clear to local planning authorities that they should take a positive approach when engaging with retailers who wish to extend their retail opening hours and look to relaxing local restrictions where possible.