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Shops will be able to open 24 hours a day in Christmas run-up

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Written by: Emma Lunn
30/11/2020
Retailers will be able to extend their daily opening hours from Monday to Saturday in the run up to Christmas and through January.

The government is relaxing retailers’ opening hours from Wednesday 2 December in a bid to make shopping safer. Under the tiered restrictions, which begin on Wednesday, all shops in every tier will be allowed to reopen.

Individual stores normally agree their opening hours with local authorities when they are granted planning permission. 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 take several weeks or more.

But communities secretary Robert Jenrick says these planning rules will be eased to allow shops to be open for longer.

As well as boosting business, the government says the 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.

Primark has become one of the first shops to say that it will take advantage of the new rules. The budget clothing retailer plans to open 11 of its stores for 24 hours when England’s lockdown is lifted on Wednesday.

Jenrick 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.”

Paul Scully, consumer minister, 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 three 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.”

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