Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Sunday shopping hours to be reviewed

Stores may be able to open earlier on Sundays after the Government announced a potential review of trading hours.

Social Development Minister Alex Attwood said it was time to take a fresh look at the current 1pm to 6pm restrictions for larger shops in Northern Ireland.

In England and Wales the law on Sunday shopping is more flexible, with big stores allowed to open for up to six continual hours between 10am and 6pm, while in Scotland there are no national restrictions on times.

Mr Attwood said that, while he was keen to see greater flexibility, it was important to recognise the significance of Sunday for many families.

"The current restrictions have been in place for more than 10 years," he said.

"Consumers now have greater expectations. Allowing earlier opening on Sundays could boost the local economy, benefit the tourist industry and support regeneration of town and city centres. This would be very useful in the current economic environment and going forward.

"I would like to look at ways of introducing flexibility around shop opening hours while retaining the tradition of Sunday as a family day. I believe a review would be a timely and balanced way to go forward.

"I am keen to hear the views of everyone in the community on this subject."

The minister urged interested parties to make their views known to his department via email: social.policy@dsdni.gov.uk.