A petition calling for retailers to close on Boxing Day has reached over 200,000 signatures, with 100,000 in the last two weeks alone.
For those of us in retail, working in store whilst your family are enjoying a Boxing Day roast in your absence will probably be an all too familiar memory. However, in the last month the spotlight has been put on those working in retail over the Christmas period.
A Change.org petition was created last month by baker and former DJ Ian Lapworth. Ian, from Kettering, spoke out on the website urging retail shops to close on Boxing Day, arguing that staff should have a longer break over the Christmas period to spend with their loved ones.
“Whilst not everyone may see Christmas as a religious holiday, it should be respected as such, and retail workers (who work so hard on the run up to the big day) given some decent family time to relax and enjoy the festivities like everyone else.” The petition explains.
A spokesperson from The Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) has said “Staff in retail work very long hours in the run-up to Christmas, they need time off to recuperate as well as to spend time with their family and friends. We are calling for shops to be closed on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day; as well as early closing by 4pm on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.”
This debate seems to have sparked the attention of big brands such as Sainsbury’s, whose Christmas advert follows an exhausted father working in a ‘toy factory’ around the busy Christmas period.
We see our main character’s non-stop life from work, delayed trains, and attempting to spend time with his family, with him singing “if only there was a way to be in two places at once.”
The charming advert ends with the man ultimately deciding to create ‘clones’ of himself (in bobble head dog form) so that he can work and spend time with his family.
Even with this advert being blanketed with a sheet of comedy and festive spirit, it sends a message that many retail workers seem to resonate with. Ian’s petition to close shops on Boxing Day is filled with thousands of comments from disgruntled retail workers, arguing that they miss out on spending time with their family whilst working in retail over Christmas.
Hollie Lambton, from Nottinghamshire, commented on the site: “Every year I’ve been working, I’ve had to work Christmas Eve, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. I’m fed up of it. I have family traditions that I can’t do anymore.”
Whilst others have said “I’m absolutely exhausted Christmas day, I’m up 2-3am in the morning preparing for the day” and how “Christmas is for families, not for retailers to make a quick buck”.
With the petition reaching significantly more than 100,000 signatures, it is now eligible to be put forward to parliament for debate. However, despite such a strong response about the topic, retail workers may have a long wait ahead of them.
A similar petition was launched last year, which later received an official response from the Government, saying “We do not believe it is for central Government to tell businesses how to run their shops or how best to serve their customers. Therefore, we are not proposing to ban shops from opening on Boxing Day.”
Along with the British Retail Consortium (BRC) stating: “Boxing Day has for years been a popular shopping day as customers take advantage of the Christmas sales, and retailers will respond accordingly to cater for customer demand.”
With this years petition gaining over 100,000 more signatures than the previous year, it will be interesting to see if the cry out from retail workers will end the long running tradition of Boxing day sales.