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Petition before parliament

Closing shops on Boxing Day ‘outdated’ idea

David Lonsdale seriousMPs heard calls for shops to close on Boxing Day following receipt of an online petition containing more than 100,000 signatures.

The petitioners are demanding that retail workers, most of whom are on minimum wage rates, be given an opportunity to be with their families.

It states: “Christmas is a family time. The one day is not enough time to see two sides of families. Retail workers work extremely hard during the Christmas run up and only get the one day.

“If only everywhere could be closed Boxing Day! Some things are needed over the festive period; retail isn’t one of them.”

The petition was debated in parliament where Labour MP Helen Jones agreed Boxing Day should be a “day of rest”.

But Conservative Philip Hollobone said any ban in the internet age risked placing MPs on the “wrong side of history”.

David Lonsdale (pictured), director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said the proposed ban was “outdated and ill thought out.”

He said Boxing Day was a popular shopping day, adding that shops needed to compete against online retailers which face no pressure to shut down.

The government is unlikely to intervene  by telling retailers how to run their businesses, but the debate will inform MPs on public opinion.

There are currently no controls on trading hours on Boxing Day unless it falls on a Sunday. The Christmas Day Trading Act prohibits shops larger than 280 sq m from opening on 25 December.

In 2014, 365,000 retailer workers were on duty on Boxing Day, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Mr Lonsdale said: “Individual retailers and employers in other sectors such as hospitality, leisure and tourism ought to be free to make their own decisions on opening hours based on their customers’ needs and preferences as well as staff availability,” he said.

“Boxing Day has for years been a popular shopping day as customers take advantage of the traditional Christmas sales, and retailers will respond accordingly to cater for customer demand.

“Most retailers offer flexible shift patterns to ensure time off is distributed as fairly as possible amongst colleagues who don’t wish to work throughout the holiday period.

“The notion of banning trading on Boxing Day is outdated and ill-thought out given customers can already shop online whenever they choose.

“Any legislative attempts to implement a trading ban would send out a very poor signal at a time when strenuous efforts are being made to revitalise our high streets and to promote Scotland as at destination for visitors during the festive period.”

 



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