Debates on the Shops Act (1950), which regulates the hours and conditions of retail employment and operation in England and Wales, have largely occurred in ignorance of the realities of enforcement at local level. This paper, drawing upon a postal survey and official prosecution statistics, is an attempt to examine spatial, temporal, and sectoral variations in proceedings and offenders. The findings seem to reflect the breakdown in local compliance with the Act. This can be related to the major restructuring of some sectors of retail capital. It also seems that enforcement is locally specific. The Act, in other words, is not applied , but interpreted at local level in the light of place-specific conditions.