All-day Sunday trading plan rejected in Belfast

Councillors have voted against increasing Sunday trading in Belfast, following concerns that family life would suffer.

Belfast City Council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee rejected the proposal on Friday morning by twelve votes to three.

Shopworkers’ union Usdaw spoke out against the plans during a consultation period, saying members were concerned that all-day shopping would have a detrimental effect on families.

Cross-party rejection

The BBC reported that the DUP, Sinn Féin and the SDLP all opposed the measure in the council vote.

Nearly 2,500 individuals and organisations had responded to the consultation.

The proposal was to designate Belfast as a ‘holiday resort’ under the Northern Ireland’s Shops Order 1997 and to allow all-day opening on 18 days a year.


Small trader group Retail NI welcomed the vote, and added that it “puts down an important marker to the other ten Local Councils not to consider relaxing Sunday trading through the backdoor of Resort Status”.

John Hannett, General Secretary of Usdaw, has previously warned that workers would come under “additional pressure” to work on Sundays if shops are open longer.

Usdaw carried out a survey of over 600 of their members in Northern Ireland in November last year and almost two thirds of respondents said they have “already come under pressure to work on Sundays”.

Special Sundays

Hannett said the “number one reason” for shopworkers’ opposition is “the detrimental effect this would have on their family life”.

“Sundays would lose a lot of what makes them special and we do not believe that Belfast City Council should pass their proposals,” he added.

In March last year, MPs at Westminster defeated the Government over plans to extend Sunday shopping hours in England and Wales.

Institute Director Colin Hart said at the time: “I’m delighted that MPs from all the main parties have joined together to do the right thing.”