The government is to allow local shops to trade around the clock in a move to support the retail industry and its bid to recoup some of the losses it has suffered during the pandemic, a cabinet minister has said.
Communities secretary, Robert Jenrick has said he wanted to remove the bureaucracy involved in enabling retailers to trade beyond the hours of 9am to 7pm, and is “issuing an unambiguous request to councils to allow businesses to do so.”
Retailers normally have to go through a lengthy and time-consuming process to apply to local authorities under the Town and Country Planning Act if they wish to extend their trading hours. However, in light of the sweeping closures across the country at the hands of the coronavirus and restrictions, the government is ready to remove the barriers and allow shops to open for up to 24 hours a day in December and January.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he 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.”
Recent research from the Local Data Company has revealed that a record number of shops closed during the first half of 2020 due to the coronavirus lockdown. The Retail Gazette reports that a total of 11,000 chain operator outlets shut between January and August this year, while around 5,000 shops opened. The net decline of 6,000 is almost double the drop during the same period last year.