FAMILY-owned Northallerton department store, Barkers, will open its doors every Sunday throughout the year for the first time in its 135-year history.

From Sunday, May 28, Barkers will begin opening seven days a week to meet demand from customers.

Even though its sister store, Barkers Home, has traded on a Sunday since opening more than years ago, Barkers department store resisted Sunday trading because the owners felt the town was not busy enough, and it wasn’t commercially viable to remain open an extra day.

Barkers department store previously only opened its doors on a Sunday throughout December, in the run up to Christmas.

However, a steady increase in weekend shoppers has prompted a rethink on opening the High Street department store every Sunday, from 10am to 4pm.

Managing Director Charles Barker said: “Sundays in Northallerton are becoming busier as there are more families out together, so it is now expected that shops and stores are open seven days a week.

“Visitors from outside the area are often surprised and disappointed to discover that we are closed and wonder why.”

News Barkers will open on a Sunday has drawn a positive response from fellow traders.

Mr Lindsay Judd, acting Chairman of Northallerton Business Improvement District and Manager of Betty’s Café and Tea Rooms in Northallerton, said: “This is great news because Barkers is the largest walk around store on the High Street.

“Opening on Sundays will attract more people to Northallerton, which will have a spin-off benefit for other shops.”

The founder of Barkers was William Barker – Mr Barker’s grandfather – who was from a farming family, and one of 14 children.

In 1882, at the age of 14, he began work as an apprentice in the store of John Oxendale, which would eventually become Barkers.

There was no Sunday trading in those days as William’s apprenticeship contract stated he must attend church twice on Sundays.

As well as the department store, Barkers, which employs more than 200 staff, will also open its 1882 Bistro and Barkers Restaurant each Sunday.