High streets shops will be given permission to trade for 24 hours a day in December and January in an effort to recover some of the losses suffered during the pandemic.
Retailers usually have to go through a time-consuming process to get permission to extend their hours beyond 9am to 7pm, requiring the approval of local authorities under the Town and Country Planning Act.
However, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said he wants to remove the bureaucracy to encourage greater trade over the next couple of months.
Longer shopping hours
The move will allow stores to open around the clock during December and January, making way for a less chaotic and safer shopping experience in the lead up to Christmas.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Jenrick said: “With these changes local shops can open longer, ensuring more pleasant and safer shopping with less pressure on public transport.
“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.
“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.”
Welcome news for retailers
The change will mark some welcome news for the retail sector after non-essential shops were forced to close their doors for a month during England’s second national lockdown, which is due to end on 2 December.
England will revert back to a regional tier system in December, but shops will be allowed to open even in areas with the highest level of restrictions.
The tough restrictions throughout the year have seen many retailers suffer, with 11,000 chain outlets shut between August and January, while only 5,000 shops opened. This has left a net decline of 6,000 stores - almost double the drop during the same period in 2019.
Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group, which runs the Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, and Burton brands, is the latest retailer to be on the brink of collapse, with around 15,000 jobs at risk.
Extended trading at Primark
Primark has already confirmed it will be opening several of its stores for 24 hours when the national lockdown is lifted on 2 December.
Extending trading hours will be in place in all of its stores in England from Wednesday (2 December), with all outlets in retail parks and major shopping centres to trade until 10pm, while a selected number will stay open as late as midnight.
It is intended that the longer shopping hours will help to increase customer safety by managing the rush and reducing queues, allowing people to social distance more easily.
From 2 to 23 December, Primark stores will trade during the following hours:
Town high street - until 8pmTown shopping centre - until 8pmRetail parks - until 10pm as a minimumMajor shopping centres - until 10pm as a minimumMajor high street stores - the majority will trade until 10pm
The following stores will trade for 24 hours from 7am on Wednesday 2 December until normal closing time of Thursday 3 December:
Trafford CentreYork Monks CrossLeeds White RoseBluewaterLakesideBirmingham FortMeadowhallStratfordWhite CityCharltonGateshead Metrocentre