The UK Government has revealed that shops will be permitted to operate under extended opening hours from tomorrow (Wednesday, 2 December), as England’s second national lockdown lifts.
This is in a bid to recoup some of the lost revenue caused by the four-week ban on bricks-and-mortar non-essential retail that took place through most of November, taking a heavy toll on retailers in the run-up to Christmas.
It is also hoped that extended opening hours will allow some shoppers to avoid peak times, spreading out footfall and lessening the risk of catching Covid-19.
Helen Dickinson, 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.”
The move will allow shops to extend opening hours Monday-Saturday and the change will remain in place through to the end of January, but how long a shop is permitted to stay open will be at the discretion of its local council.
The decision, the government revealed, is intended to build on the extra support being offered to help businesses and protect jobs.
These measures include: an extension of the furlough scheme at 80% until the end of March; grants of up to £3,000 for premises that must close; and £1.1 billion for councils to enable the support of businesses in their area.
Communities Secretary, Robert Jenrick MP, 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.”