Welwyn Hatfield Guy

Existential angst from semi rural Hertfordshire

Do shops really have to open on Boxing Day?

Christmas is great;  friends and family, food, TV, and of course presents. Some things about Christmas are a given.  Noel Edmonds will appear in a hideous jumper, doing something charitable with kids. The Queen will give us the briefest glimpse into her life and thoughts this year. While we  all listen for subtexts that reveal she might be thinking  about throwing in the crown sometime soon. TV Christmas specials will also abound, some hitting and some missing the spot. For my money Caroline Ahern won the TV day with the Royale Family. Class, not even working working class, but class for sure.

What I find less savoury than a cheese straw though is the encroachment on our two days off by the major shops.  As the years go by more and more of them are opening their doors on Boxing day. This unsavoury creep of opening hours is bad news for shop workers, and their families. Can we not have two consecutive days in the year when the shops are shut? Where shop workers, often poorly paid, can spend time with those who matter, rather than those for whom they toil?

Historically Boxing Day was when employees would give their employers gifts (in boxes of course) as a thank you for employing them through the year. This would seem very odd to us, but i’m sure the employers of old would have thought making their staff work on Boxing Day equally odd, not to say mean-spirited.

Supermarkets do not need to open on Boxing day,  and we don’t don’t to worship at the temple of the well stocked isle on Boxing Day. Of course the sad truth is that supermarkets know from experience that if they open people will come, whatever the day.  So in the desperate race for ever bigger profits, most now open on the 26th of December. Thousands of workers are denied a proper Christmas break by decree of supermarket bosses, who’ll say they  “have a duty to the board to maximise profits” – Change the record!

I refuse on principal to set foot inside a supermarket on Boxing Day, we all need a work/life balance, including shopworkers. Some will of course be happy to work that day for various reasons, but many are not. I overheard checkout operators in two supermarkets saying so this week.

How many years before one of them, probably Tesco, tries to open on Christmas day?

So my Boxing Day message is ‘Don’t go there!

Stay away from supermarkets if you can, let the poorly paid, often highly pressured, shop staff have a Christmas break too!

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