Businesses usually having to apply to city councils if they wish to open outside of normal trading hours (9am to 7pm). However, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has confirmed that for the next two months all retailers are being given dispensation to aid economic recovery.
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.”
Although the North East will be placed under Tier 3 restrictions, non-essential stores are being allowed to re-open.
Fashion and homeware retailer, Primark, re-opened their Gateshead store for a 24-hour trade on 2 December.
In a statement, Paul Marchant, Chief Executive of Primark, said: “We are delighted to re-open our stores in England on 2 December, with longer shopping hours to give our customers more time to safely do their festive shopping.”
Newcastle Eldon Square has also followed suit, welcoming back Christmas shoppers with extended opening hours until 8pm Monday-Friday, until 23 December.
The announcement comes following the publishing of research from the Local Data Company and accountancy firm PwC that details a record number of shops closed during the first half of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The economic impact on businesses has been substantial with many left struggling. Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group, running Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and Burton, has been revealed to be on the brink of collapse with around 15,000 jobs at risk.
Featured Image: Toa Heftiba, Unsplash