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Open all hours - but should stores close on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day?

PUBLISHED: 16:53 02 January 2019 | UPDATED: 16:53 02 January 2019

Boxing Day sales bringing out shoppers in Ipswich. But should so many shops open? Picture: GREGG BROWN

Boxing Day sales bringing out shoppers in Ipswich. But should so many shops open? Picture: GREGG BROWN

Should shops keep their doors shut on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day - or is it right for them to open? Have your say in our poll.

Many high street stores and supermarkets in Suffolk and north Essex closed their doors for just 24 hours on Christmas Day this year - then opened up again the following day.

Some, such as Next, which opened at 6am to launch its Boxing Day sale, saw queues of bargain hunters forming. A number of stores across the area also opened on New Year’s Day, although this is a less popular shopping day than Boxing Day.

But, while many people were rushing out to do battle for bargains, others have been arguing via social media that stores should stay closed for longer, to give their staff a proper break.

EADT reader Natalie Barnes commented on Facebook: “Absolutely ridiculous, shops should be made to shut on Boxing Day, as there is no need for them to open. Whatever happened to family time at Christmas? Same goes for New Year’s Day - they should be shut too!”

On the Ipswich Star Facebook page, Nicki Tinker took a similar view, saying: “Nothing should open Christmas Day or Boxing Day or New Year’s Eve or Day, end of. But it’s all money, money, nowadays, no family time.”

Gail Thompson agreed, saying: “No, I won’t shop on Boxing Day. Poor staff, made to work when they should be with their families.”

Boxing Day sales in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: EMMA BRENNANBoxing Day sales in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: EMMA BRENNAN

June King commented: “Whatever happened to waiting for January sales? It’s Christmas time, for spending with loved ones. You can shop any time of the year.”

On the subject of supermarkets, Ipswich Star reader Dave Southgate said shops should be closed on the public holidays and also on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. He commented: “If people can’t organise themselves to get presents and food beforehand, then that’s their problem.

However, Andy Cousens said: “I agree to an extent, but if people are working all those times as well, when are they going to go? My dad is a butcher and works from 6am to 10 or 11pm in the week leading up to Christmas, and he finishes at about 2 on Christmas Eve. He doesn’t get a day off either.

“I agree they should close a lot earlier though. Tesco Express was open until 10pm on New Year’s Eve! What’s the point? They could’ve closed at 8pm.”

Retailers’ view on Boxing Day opening

Ipswich Central marketing co-ordinator Jack Cripps commented: “Boxing Day sales have become somewhat of a tradition for British retail, and if it is popular with the public and helps Ipswich businesses to succeed, long may it continue!”

The John Lewis at Home store in Ipswich was closed on Boxing Day and New Year's Day. Picture: SU ANDERSONThe John Lewis at Home store in Ipswich was closed on Boxing Day and New Year's Day. Picture: SU ANDERSON

First signs are that this year’s Boxing Day sales have proved popular in our area, with Sailmakers Shopping Centre in Ipswich reporting that sales had been brisk, coming at the end of a December which saw shopper numbers in the centre up by 3% compared to last year.

Sailmakers centre manager Mike Sorhaindo said at the time: “Boxing Day is always a very important day in the retail calendar and that’s been true again this year.”

However, nationally, figures from retail intelligence specialist Springboard confirmed that footfall had fallen by 3.1% on December 26 in high streets, shopping centres and retail parks, with competition from online retail being one factor.

While the large chains opened, many smaller independent shops decided to stay shut. Lynn Turner, owner of Cake & Catwalk boutique in St Peter’s Street, Ipswich, said her shop had been closed on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. “As a small store, people don’t expect you to be open, and it certainly wouldn’t be worth it for us,” she said.

John Manning, owner of The House in Town shop, also in St Peter’s Street, also said the shop had been closed on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

He said the four shops owned by his family, including Maud’s Attic, Merchant House Interiors and the pop-up Harry Potter store, were all regularly open six days a week, and it had been seven days during November and December.

“There are limited opportunities to take a holiday, so Christmas and New Year are a good time to do that.”

How Boxing Day shopping caught on in our high streets

During the 1990s, many fewer shops would have opened on Boxing Day, with a lot of sales still starting on December 27. But, by 2004, when there was a special drive to attract more customers to Ipswich town centre, more shops were starting to take up the idea.

This year, most major high street stores were open on Boxing Day, including Debenhams, HMV, Game and Curry’s PC World stores in Ipswich, Colchester and Bury St Edmunds, as well as many fashion chains,

One major chain which also stayed shut, though, was John Lewis, with all its department stores, including those in Ipswich and Chelmsford, closing on both Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. A spokesman said: “This is what we have always done.”

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