Sunday trading loading consent

Small shops are now allowed to open for unlimited hours on a Sunday, while large shops can open for up to six hours. Legislation no longer requires shops to register for a Sunday trading licence but you will still need to register for loading and unloading on a Sunday.

Sunday trading guidelines

Sunday trading hours are controlled by the Sunday Trading Act 1994, which received Royal Assent on 5 July 1994.

Who may trade on a Sunday?

Small shops (with a retail area less than 280 square metres) now have unrestricted opening on a Sunday. Individual market stalls forming part of a large outdoor market fall within this category.

Large shops (with a retail sales/display area of 280 square metres or greater) can open for a maximum of 6 hours on a Sunday and for more than 6 hours if they fall within one of the following categories:
 i) exempt shops,
 ii) shops occupied by persons observing the Jewish Sabbath,  N.B. Shops that are closed on a Saturday.

N.B. Shops that are subject to planning restrictions that prevent them trading on a Sunday must still comply with those restrictions.

Exempt shops

The following shops (both large and small) are exempt from the 6 hours opening restriction on a Sunday -
a) Public houses, Off licenses & Take away food shops. (These premises must still comply with the requirements of other legislation such as the hours that are imposed by liquor licensing and night cafe legislation.)
b) Chemists/pharmacies - Provided they are not open for the sale of goods other than medicinal and medical products and surgical appliances.
c) Airport shops
d) Shops in a railway station
e) Service areas and Petrol filling stations
f) Motor accessory shops - Where the trade or business is wholly or mainly the sale of motor supplies or accessories, or cycle supplies or accessories.
g) Farm shops - That are open wholly or mainly for the sale of produce from that farm.
h) Exhibition stands.

Persons observing the Jewish Sabbath

Where a person(s) of a religion that observes the Jewish Sabbath wishes to open a large shop on a Sunday for more than six hours, they may do so once they have served a notice on their Local Authority stating their beliefs and their intention to close on a Saturday, and once the Authority has registered them.

In the case of a partnership or company, the majority of the partners or directors must be of a religion that observes the Jewish Sabbath.

Large shops

Shops with a retail/display area of 280 Sq. m. or larger may open for 6 continuous hours between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on a Sunday.

Sunday trading from a large shop is still not permitted where the Sunday is either Easter Day or Christmas Day.

Where a large shop opens on a Sunday they must display a notice both inside and outside the premises clearly showing the hours they are open on a Sunday.

Loading control areas

The Sunday Trading Act allows for Local Authorities to pass a resolution that prevents large shops from receiving deliveries before 9.00 a.m. unless they have first registered with their Local Authority.

The Local Authority having passed a resolution may refuse to register a premises or may attach such conditions as they feel appropriate.

The Council may charge such fees as they think reasonable for the registering of premises to receive deliveries before 9.00 a.m.

Brent Council's responsibilities

Brent Council passed a resolution designating its area as a loading control area and will keep a register of all premises that are registered to take deliveries before 9.00 a.m. and any conditions that may be attached to that registration.

The Council will also keep a register of all persons keeping the Jewish Sabbath where such a registration is made to keep a large shop open on a Sunday.

Health Safety and Licensing Inspectors are required to, and will, undertake Sunday duties to ensure premises comply with the legislation.

Employment provisions

The Sunday Trading Act 1994 contains provisions for the protection of staff.  These provisions are not enforced by the Local Authority but are the jurisdiction of an Industrial Tribunal with the exception of the original provisions of the Shops Act 1950 relating to time off in respect of Sunday working.  These will be checked during inspections.

Offences and penalties

Where an occupier(s) of a large shop opens on a Sunday for more than 6 hours and the exemptions do not apply to that shop they may on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding £50,000.

Any occupiers of a shop open for six hours on a Sunday that fails to display a notice in a conspicuous position inside and outside their premises specifying their opening hours shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding £500.

Any person that intentionally obstructs a Sunday Trading Inspector acting in the execution of  his/her duty shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding £1,000.

Any person making a false statement in a notice or certificate for the purpose of obtaining the Jewish exemption shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding £5,000.

Where a person is convicted of unauthorised loading or unloading in a control area they shall be liable to a fine not exceeding £1,000.

N.B The high level of fine for illegal Sunday opening should be taken as an indication of the seriousness now shown towards this offence.

Further information

Consumer complaint

Copies of the Sunday Trading Act 1994 and other legislation mentioned here can be purchased from Her Majesty's Stationery Office.

A copy of the Sunday Trading Act 1994 can be inspected at the Health Safety and Licensing Division's offices.