All garden centres 'should be open on Easter Sunday'

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionCall for garden centre hours change

Ministers are being urged to end restrictions that prevent many garden centres in England and Wales from opening on Easter Sunday.

Trading laws mean larger nurseries and other shops of more than 3,000 sq ft (280 sq m) are forced to close on Easter Sunday and Christmas Day.

The Horticultural Trades Association said the rules were outdated and cost the industry millions of pounds.

The government said it had "no current plans" to relax the rules.

Smaller garden centres are able to open all year round, and the current laws do not apply in Scotland.

'Day off'

Any extension to the laws on opening hours could be opposed by church groups, as well as workers who take advantage of a day off during a busy trading period.

Raoul Curtis-Machin of the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) told BBC South Today that garden centres were missing out on £5,500 each by staying shut for the day.

"That's a potential economic boost to the country of up to £75m," he added.

The HTA argues that opening on Easter Sunday would "contribute to stress-free family and social life by making it possible for them to enjoy garden centres for longer".

But Alan Goold, who runs a garden centre near Reading with his two brothers, said he welcomed the time off.

He said: "For us, it enables us to give ourselves and our staff a day off over a busy bank holiday weekend.

"We have three days when we are working - it gives us a day's break when we can spend it with the family and get them back refreshed for the next few days."

A spokeswoman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said Sunday trading laws had been relaxed during the 2012 Olympics to allow retailers to "take advantage of the unique opportunity the Games presented".

She said: "The suspension of the law only applied to the specified period, from 22 July to 9 September 2012. If the government wanted to look at this again there would be an opportunity for wider debate as new legislation would be required.

"The government has no current plans for a relaxation of the regulations."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites