New Year’s Day Trading for Large Retailers

Closes 24 Aug 2021


It is recognised that not all consultees will wish or feel able to answer all of the questions. Consultees are encouraged to answer questions where they feel it appropriate to do so.

The links below correspond to the sections within the consultation. You may complete some or all of the sections. By clicking a link it will take you to the questions within the section. Once you have completed the relevant questions on the page you can select 'Save and come back later...' or 'Continue'. '

Save and return' later feature allows you to return to the consultation at a later date without losing the information you've already entered as part of your response. If the response has not been submitted prior to the consultation closing the response will be lost.

'Continue' will return you to this page. You can opt to complete another section or complete the required 'About you' page. Once the required questions have been completed you may submit your response.

Purpose of the consultation

Since 2007, large shops have by law not been able to open on Christmas Day to make retail sales under the Christmas and New Year’s Day (Trading) (Scotland) Act 2007. Whilst the law did not apply to shops that opened on New Year’s Day, it did give Scottish Ministers the ability to make an Order that would do that at a future date.

This consultation is being held to seek the views of shop workers, retail businesses and others on whether the current law should change so that large retail businesses must close on New Year’s Day, as they currently do on Christmas Day.

Why we are consulting

In January 2020, a petition was put before the Scottish Parliament by the trade union Usdaw. The petition asked the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to launch a consultation on implementing legislation to ban large shops from opening on New Year’s Day. 

Shortly after the petition was lodged, the retail sector was facing significant challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With retailers working on maintaining the supply of food and other essential items and no clear end to the pandemic in sight, the Scottish Government wrote to the Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee in April 2020 to confirm its view that it was not the right time to hold a consultation. 

However with the country moving towards recovery, the easing of restrictions and the progress being made through the vaccination programme, the Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills again wrote to the Public Petitions Committee on 24 March 2021 and set out his intention to take forward a consultation on New Year’s Day Trading this year.  

Background to the Consultation

 The Christmas and New Year’s Day Trading (Scotland) Act 2007 (the Act) stops  large retail stores from opening on Christmas Day. When the Act was being considered by the Scottish Parliament it was agreed that the law to close large shops would only apply on Christmas Day. The Act became law on 13 April 2007.

However, the Act contained a Section that made it possible for Scottish Government Ministers to make an Order that large shops should also close on New Year’s Day, without the need for introducing new primary legislation.

Section 2 of the Act sets out the steps -  referred to in the Act as pre-conditions – that must first be taken before making an Order under this part of the law. These pre-conditions are:

  • To hold a consultation on whether large shops should close on New Year’s Day.
  • To prepare reports on the economic impact and the impact on family life, of large shops opening on New Year's Day.
  • To prepare a Parliamentary statement of the reasons for changing the law so that large shops should close on New Year’s Day.

The responses in the consultation will help decide whether to propose a change to the existing law or not.

Who the Act currently applies to

  • All retail businesses that have 280 m² or more of floor space for customers including that used for display purposes. (By way of comparison, the area of a standard tennis court is 260 m².)

In addition to those shops that do not have a smaller floor space of 280 m² or more, other businesses are exempt from this law and include :

  • Businesses that wholly or mainly sell meals, refreshments or alcohol for consuming on the premises, such as pubs, restaurants, cafes.
  • Businesses that sell meals or refreshments to order for consuming off the premises such as takeaways.
  • Registered pharmacies that are open only to dispense prescription drugs, medicines or appliances.
  • Businesses sited within a port, railway station or commercial airport.
  • Businesses in a motorway service area
  • Business wholly or mainly selling fuel for motor vehicles (petrol stations).

Who we are consulting.

Section 2(4) of the Act sets out those who must be consulted on this matter. They are:

  1. every local authority (council) in Scotland
  2. retail businesses and those organisations that represent businesses
  3. retail workers who work in large shops and their representatives; and 
  4. any other people or organisations that the Minister thinks appropriate.

The Consultation on Citizens Space has been designed so that it is open to everyone to participate, but some questions have been designed so that we can gather the views of shop workers and retail businesses that are likely to be most affected by any change in the law. 

Published Information

The Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee published evidence as part of its consideration of the Petition PE01780: Consultation on the closure of large shops on New Year's Day, which was lodged on 23 January 2020. The Petition attracted 2040 signatures. It was closed on 10 February 2021.

Links to various submissions are replicated below:



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Introductory Question
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Employee Questions
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Employer Questions
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Closing Questions
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About you (Required)
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