New Year’s Day trading

Consultation launches.

A consultation seeking the views of business, retailers and shop workers on New Year’s Day trading has been published.

Running for 10 weeks until 24 August, the consultation aims to determine whether the current law should change and restrict large retailers from trading on New Year’s Day as is the case on Christmas Day.

Affected stakeholders, including large retailers and their staff, are strongly encouraged to participate in the consultation which follows a parliamentary petition calling for trading on 1 January to be prohibited.

Public Finance Minister Tom Arthur said:

“The last year has shown how much we all rely on retailers and their staff who have supported the country during the pandemic. As we look at recovery and building a sustainable economy we need to consider what will support businesses and their staff in the future.

“Following a petition to the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee calling for trading to be banned on New Year’s Day, the Scottish Government has been engaging with business groups, trades unions and others to understand what impact this would have on business and staff.

“This consultation will help us to determine whether the current law should change and restrict large retailers from trading on New Year’s Day, as they currently do on Christmas Day. 

“The Scottish Government encourages everybody with an interest to complete this consultation to ensure their views are considered.

“As we recover from the COVID pandemic we are committed to building on the £3.6 billion in support we have delivered to businesses since March 2020 and ensure we seize Scotland’s economic potential, creating secure, sustainable and satisfying jobs.”


New Year's Day Trading for Large Retailers Consultation - Scottish Government - Citizen Space

The Christmas and New Year’s Day Trading (Scotland) Act 2007 (the Act) stops large retail stores from opening on Christmas Day. The responses in the consultation will help Scottish Government Ministers decide whether to make an Order under the Act that large shops should also close on New Year’s Day.

The Act applies to all retail businesses that have 280 m or more of floor space for customers including that used for display purposes. In addition to those shops that do not have a floor space of 280 m 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
  • businesses that wholly or mainly sell fuel for motor vehicles (petrol stations)

Larger shops are currently permitted to trade on New Year’s Day in the other home nations but are required to close on Christmas Day and Easter Sunday, and are subject to trading restrictions on Sundays.

The retail sector plays a key role in Scotland’s economy and society, with 233,000 people directly employed in 2019.


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