New Year’s Day Trading for Large Retailers

Closed 24 Aug 2021

Opened 15 Jun 2021

Results updated 24 Mar 2023

This consultation is closed. Please see the links below for futher information.


The trade union Usdaw petitioned for a consultation on whether Scottish Ministers should use existing order-making powers under the Christmas Day and New Year's Day Trading (Scotland) Act 2007 to close large retail stores on New Year’s Day.

The matter was considered by the Public Petitions Committee in the last parliamentary session of 2020 and in 2021 the Scottish Government honoured our commitment to consult on whether to enact this legislation.


While sympathetic to the campaign to legislate, the limits of the Christmas and New Year’s Day Trading Act were clear and - having analysed the data collected and carefully considered the consultation responses, the prevailing economic conditions, and the options available under this legislation – the Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth confirmed in a statement to Parliament on 26 October 2021 that we would not be making an order.

The Scottish Government has been consistently clear that, in line with the statutory requirements of the Act, a decision on New Year’s Day trading would take account of the prevailing economic conditions, which remain difficult for the retail sector.

Employment law is, unfortunately, currently reserved. As such, this legislation would only have restricted trading in stores over a certain size and it would not have given all retail workers a day off.

The legislation would not even have covered all workers in large retail. Simply closing stores would not have prohibited restocking, deliveries or online shopping – so employees might still have been required to work. Crucially, it also did not guarantee that those who got the day off would have been paid for it.

It was clear that this legislation could not deliver what we as a government and what the unions wanted - better conditions for all workers.

We wanted to go further than the legislation allowed and put Fair Work principles at the heart of the retail sector. Fair Work principles should apply to those working in all stores and in all parts of retail operations. This requires a coherent, collaborative and long-term approach involving retailers, trade unions and employees. To achieve this, we published Getting the Right Change: A Retail Strategy for Scotland in March 2022, and a Retail Industry Leadership Group was established to drive and support delivery of the strategy actions, in particular on improving fair work across the sector.


Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.


We are consulting with employees and retail businesses on whether the law should be changed to close large retail businesses on New Year’s Day. A large shop is defined as one with a relevant floor area over 280 square metres (for comparison purposes a tennis court is 260 square metres). The relevant area is defined as the area being used for making retail sales or displaying goods in connection with such sales and which is available to the public. The definition of “retail sale” makes clear that it is opening for the purpose of retailing goods to the general public.

Why your views matter

The Christmas Day and New Year's Day Trading (Scotland) Act 2007 makes it possible for the law that closes large retailers on Christmas Day to also apply to New Year’s Day. The Scottish Government agreed to hold a consultation on whether to enact this legislation.

Read the consultation paper. 

What happens next

Following the closing date, all responses will be analysed and considered along with any other available evidence. The Scottish Government will publish responses, where respondents have given permission for their response to be made public, and a report summarising responses will also be made available. The data collected will be analysed and this evaluation will be considered by Scottish Ministers to determine if they wish to pursue the enactment of legislation. If they do determine the need for legislation then the summary of the data will be presented in summary to the Scottish Parliament.


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