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Shops oppose New Year’s Day closure call

shoppers on Black Friday

Stores may close on New Year’s Day (pic: Terry Murden)

Shopworkers are caught up in a dispute over whether shops should close on New Year’s Day.

The Scottish government has launched a consultation exercise on introducing a permanent ban on large retailers opening on on Ne’r Day.

The existing Christmas Day and New Year’s Day Trading (Scotland) Act 2007 currently prohibits shops operating from premises over 280 square metres in size from opening to customers on Christmas Day in Scotland.

The provision applying to New Year’s Day was never brought into force. The legislation applies to retail but not to other sectors which often trade or work at that time of year such as hospitality, leisure, petrol stations, and public services.

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “Shopper footfall is down a quarter, shop vacancies are at a six-year high, and Scottish retailers have lost out on over £4 billion of retail sales over the past fifteen months due to the pandemic and associated lockdowns and restrictions.

“The government’s focus should be on kick-starting recovery, not closing shops.

“The majority of Scotland’s stores have been compelled to close for at least 220 days during the past fifteen months.

“That figure is even higher for shops located in shopping centres or in west central Scotland who were required to close for a further three weeks last November.

David Lonsdale

David Lonsdale: absurd to close shops (pic: Terry Murden)

Against this backdrop, it’s frankly absurd that Scottish Ministers could even countenance the introduction of a fresh legislative ban to stop shops from trading.

However, shop workers’ trade union Usdaw, which successfully petitioned for the consultation, said its members overwhelming support closure.

Tracy Gilbert, Usdaw regional secretary for Scotland says: “Today’s launch of a consultation on large stores closing on New Year’s Day, after an unnecessary 14 year delay, is a step forward in our campaign to get a proper break for shopworkers over the festive period.

“As key workers delivering the essential service of keeping the nation fed, shopworkers deserve a decent break over the festive period.

“They have worked long hours in difficult circumstances throughout the pandemic, faced unprecedented levels of abuse and worried every working day about catching the virus and taking it home to their families.”

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