Despite a petition that garnered around 140,000 votes, the government has refused to shut down Boxing Day retail stores on the basis that it is not the government’s job to interfere in the work of businesses.
The petition, led by Labour’s Helen Jones (chair of the Petitions Committee) argued for the government to take action in response to the opening of retail stores on the day after Christmas, known as Boxing Day, explaining that it is an exploitation of low paid workers who should be spending time with their families.
It is no doubt that Boxing Day – similar to Black Friday – is a popular day amongst shoppers, according to the British Retail Consortium, as those in the UK have spent almost around 3.74 billion British Pounds in Boxing Day sales in 2015, a consistent increase of 6% from the previous year, based on research from VoucherCodes.co.uk and the Centre for Retail Research.
A Westminster Hall debate is meant to take place on Monday by the MPs, where the petition of 140,000 signatures will be discussed, to be led by Ms. Jones, who says that evidence submitted on the online forum strongly supports the idea that the government should be acting against the exploitation of the low paid workers.
She said, “I went from feeling quite indifferent about Boxing Day openings t o believing it does exploit very low paid workers, who often have to work late on Christmas Eve to get the shops ready and then have to go in very early on Boxing Day morning.”
However, in response to this petition, a British Retail Consortium Spokeswoman has argued that retailers and employers have more flexibility in their holiday staffing, and that most retailers consider those who don’t wish to work during the festive period in their distribution of labor for Boxing Day.
Additionally, the government has strongly responded: “We do not believe it is for central government to tell businesses how to run their shops or how best to serve their customers. Therefore, we are not proposing to ban shops from opening on Boxing Day.”