TAMARA SIDDIQUI: Should shop workers get a Boxing Day break?
Christmas. That time of year when it's frosty outside but warm in the homes of many; when friends and families gather from afar to spend time together and when the hustle and bustle around shops is joined by bright lights and the smell of cinnamon from market stalls.
Whether you celebrate Christmas as the religious Christian festival it is or not, there’s no denying that, culturally, this time of year in the UK is a joyous one with a cosy buzz surrounding it.
People are putting their trees up earlier, their lights up faster and purchasing presents for their nearest and dearest more quickly – although opinions are notably divided on this matter, I think most of us know people on both ends of the when-does-Christmas-begin? spectrum.
But if the holiday, and therefore spending time with loved ones, means so much to us, why don’t those who work so hard to provide us with the things we need for the big day get a decent amount of time off to spend with their own families?
A petition that was started on change.org last month to stop shops opening on Boxing Day has generated more than 200,000 signatures.
Creator Ian Lapworth from Kettering says: ‘Shops, especially supermarkets, do not need to open on Boxing Day. While not everyone sees Christmas as a religious holiday it should be respected as such and retail workers should be given some decent family time to relax, and enjoy the festivities like everyone else.
Most retail workers are on the go until Christmas Eve and are back on Boxing Day. Sometimes they have no choice. Let’s get back to the way it was and forget making money for one day. Let’s concentrate on making more memories with the ones we love.’
Boxing Day is a part of Christmas and for retail workers – many of whom have to endure night shifts – to have to miss out on family time so people can start shopping again is the exact opposite of what this time of year should be about.
Although the petition is well-intentioned, a similar one was created last year. The government did not propose a ban on shops closing on Boxing Day, and said it was not for it ‘to tell businesses how to run their shops or how best to serve their customers.’
A lot of money is made on Boxing Day, and so the other side of the argument, the one for the good of the economy, is posed.
• Twenty-four-year-old Tamara Siddiqui is journalist at The News. Read her views on life as a modern woman in an ever-changing world every week.