Primark has said it will keep 11 of its stores in England open around the clock once the latest lockdown restrictions lift on 2 December.
The move comes as a cabinet minister confirmed to the Daily Telegraph that shops will be given permission to trade 24 hours a day as retailers try to recoup some of their losses and make the most of the busy festive season.
Retailers would normally be required to go through a lengthy process, under the Town and Country Planning Act, to apply to local authorities if they wish to extend trading hours outside the 9am to 7pm window.
However, Communities secretary Robert Jenrick said he wanted to remove the bureaucracy to encourage greater trade – allowing shops to open for up to 24 hours a day in December and January.
He said: “With these changes local shops can open longer, ensuring more pleasant and safer shopping with less pressure on public transport.
“How long will be a matter of choice for the shopkeepers and at the discretion of the council, but I suggest we offer these hard pressed entrepreneurs and businesses the greatest possible flexibility this festive season.
“As Local Government Secretary I am relaxing planning restrictions and issuing an unambiguous request to councils to allow businesses to welcome us into their glowing stores late into the evening and beyond.”
The UK high street has been dealt a huge blow this year as the coronavirus pandemic shut doors across the country as people were told to stay at home to curb the spread of the virus
Before COVID-19, retailers were already suffering from rising business rates, declining customer footfall and increased competition from online rivals. The health crisis has only exacerbated these woes.
As many as 13,867 shops have closed permanently, including thousands of small stores employing 32,598, the Centre for Retail Research (CRR) revealed.
Discount retailer Primark stated during the first lockdown that its sales went from £650m ($867m) each month to zero due to the company not having an online presence.
It has confirmed the following Primark stores will be staying open 24/7 to recoup losses: Trafford, York Monks Cross, Leeds White Rose, Bluewater, Lakeside, Birmingham Fort, Meadowhall, Stratford, White City, Charleton, and Gateshead Metrocentre.
Primark added that it will extend its opening hours for its remaining stores to allow shoppers more time to shop for Christmas, with branches open until at least 8pm on weekdays. Outlets in shopping centres will also remain open until 10pm, with a select few staying open until midnight.
Paul Marchant, chief executive at Primark, said: “We are delighted to re-open our stores in England on 2 December, with longer shopping hours to give our customers more time to safely do their festive shopping.
"We have everything this season that our customers expect from Primark, including our famous Christmas jumpers, festive pyjamas and much, much more."
Primark owner Associated British Foods (ABF.L) posted a 42% slump in annual profits earlier this month after being forced to shut all its stores during the spring lockdown.
The FTSE 100 (^FTSE) company saw pre-tax profits of £686m for the year to Sept 12, down from £1.2bn the previous year, while revenue fell 12pc to £13.9bn.
The news comes as other retailers have also made announcements about Christmas opening hours.
Tesco (TSCO.L) has confirmed it will open around 300 of its stores for 24 hours in the run-up to Christmas, while Sainsbury’s (SBRY.L) and Marks and Spencer (MAKSY) have said they will be operating extending opening hours.
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