It's a strange phenomenon because I don't expect English cities to be closed that early at 6pm in Wolverhampton, UK, viz.

Is there any (economical), (historic), (social) reason for closing so early? Strange enough, Wolverhampton has a pseudo-24hrs hypermarket.

Are there other UK cities that are like these? Is it a normal thing for English cities to close early on weekdays like in Sydney, Australia?

Please don't get me wrong, I'm not criticizing the closing hours, I like in a German city that also closes early but a little later at 8pm. I'm just curious as to whether there's a reason for early closing time in English cities and I would like to prepare myself just in case I arrive at a city at 6pm and I couldn't find shops, e.g. pharmacy, bookshops, clothing shops.

  • 3
    What day of the week did you see this? Multiple days? What is your home country that you consider 'normal'? What kind of stores are you trying to use? Jan 4, 2016 at 21:34
  • I'm not saying it's abnormal. I'm just curious why it closes that early ;P
    – alvas
    Jan 4, 2016 at 21:50
  • 4
    In several West European cities you will find the shops close at 6 pm on a normal working day and often earlier on the Saturday and no opening on Sunday. The UK usually has longer hours but not all cities/shops follow that to the outmost.
    – Willeke
    Jan 4, 2016 at 22:00
  • 2
    Because they can is the answer to most economic questions.
    – JonathanReez
    Jan 4, 2016 at 22:26
  • @alvas Anywhere you go, much depends on the local conditions. In a large city, or least one where many people keep late hours, you'll have enough available labor and enough available customers to keep longer hours. If the city center is desolate after business hours, not even restaurants and corner stores may be open long after 5pm. By the same token, a donut shop near me that caters to hipsters does not open till 10am (5-6 hours after the regular donut shops do). And an Asda would have a vastly larger catchment than a Boots, and greater economies of scale, so it's unsurprising they're 24-hr.
    – choster
    Jan 5, 2016 at 0:05

2 Answers 2


It's fairly normal in many parts of Europe that regular non-entertainment, non-tourist oriented shops keep regular business hours and don't open in the evening. This is especially true of smaller shops.

The historical, economic and social reason is simple - shop-workers like to have a life. They don't want to work evenings any more than you do, and most shop owners don't want to pay staff to work evenings unless there is the trade to support it. Europeans haven't bought into the idea that 'shopping is entertainment', or that everyone should be able to buy plumbing supplies at 2am.

it isn't a hard and fast rule. The bigger the city, and the bigger the store, the more likely it is to be open later.

You will almost always find a big grocery store that opens well into the evening, and often bigger department stores on the outskirts of the town open late too. But smaller stores in the centre of town usually don't.

Restaurants, pubs, clubs etc. do of course open late. For essential services like a pharmacy there is usually one that is open late in most towns, on a rotating basis.

  • Is this normal in UK for cities with closed shops at around 6-ish pm? I'ven't been to much of UK, so I'm not that sure. In Germany, it's ranges from 6-ish to 8-ish. Some bigger cities open up to 9-10pm but that's pretty much the few cities that are well-known (Frankfurt, Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart, etc.)
    – alvas
    Jan 4, 2016 at 22:00
  • 1
    The thing I never quite figured out is: If everyone is working in the day, who is going into the shops?! Jan 4, 2016 at 22:32
  • 2
    @MichaelHampton: You have found the reason why many shops can be almost deserted before 2 PM on workdays, while the same shops are completely crowded after 7 PM and on Saturdays. More seriously, at least grocery shopping is "traditionally" done by the member in a household who doesn't have a full-time job (if the household can afford this). Jan 5, 2016 at 1:03
  • @MichaelHampton John Cleeses view on the matter
    – gerrit
    Jan 5, 2016 at 14:50

The times do seem a little early for a town the size of Wolverhampton. But Wolverhampton is not really an independent city. It's effectively an outer suburb of Birmingham, the second largest city in the UK. As you note in your question there is also a large retail park nearby.

Therefore people who have cars will have no problem driving to the retail park or a more central area of the West Midlands conurbation. So the demand for local shops is less.

The same phenomenon can be observed around other large cities, such as London

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .