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Petition for shops to close on Boxing Day gains 202,000 signatures

Published: 16 November 2016 - Jenny Wonnacott

A petition calling for Prime Minister Theresa May to ban shops from opening on Boxing Day so that retail workers can spend more time with their families has currently acquired almost 203,000 supporters.

Boxing Day has marked the start of the January sales for many retailers in recent years
Boxing Day has marked the start of the January sales for many retailers in recent years

The petition, which was created by Ian Lapworth, points out that shops "do not need to open on Boxing Day," and that Christmas should be respected as a religious holiday.

"Retail workers (who work so hard on the run up to the big day) [should be] given some decent family time to relax and enjoy the festivities like everyone else. Most retail workers are on the go up to Christmas Eve, then back on Boxing Day. Sometimes they have no choice."

The petition pointed out that "we managed 30 and 40 years ago... when shops were sometimes shut for a whole week. Let's  go back to the way it was. Forget making money for one day, let's concentrate on making more memories with the ones we love."

Support has flooded in for the petition, with many retail workers commenting on the issue. "[I] worked 18 years in retail and it's very sad I had to work Christmas because I had to sell clothes," said Sara-jane Holt from Bedford. "If I was a doctor and had to work Christmas it was to save a life, but all I was doing was selling stuff cheap!"

Lauren Howard, meanwhile, who sells household goods as well as clothing, said, "I work for a top high street retailer and what thanks do I get for working hard over Christmas and every bank holiday, nothing!"

Said Paul Hayes, "I only get Christmas day off, I have to go to bed early on Christmas Eve due to being exhausted setting up sales for Boxing Day and I have to go to bed early Christmas day and avoid spending time with family or having any celebratory drinks as I then have to work all the way through new year's as well. I am a retail manager and I have spent time with family for Christmas since I was 15."

Shopworkers union Usdaw has also voiced its support for the petition. A spokesperson said, "Staff in retail work very long hours in the run-up to Christmas.

“Our members tell us that they need time off to recuperate as well as to spend time with their family and friends. That is especially important when they have children for whom Christmas is such a special time.

“Usdaw is seeking the longest possible break for retail staff over the Christmas and New Year period to provide shopworkers with a breather during this very busy time.

“Usdaw won the campaign for legislation to stop large stores from opening on Christmas Day and we are calling for small stores to follow suit and stay shut.

“We are also 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.

“Usdaw is not currently campaigning for any changes in shop trading hours legislation.

"In fact we have been busy defending the existing restrictions against deregulation but we welcome the debate this petition is generating.

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