Banning the Boxing Day sales? Bog off...

Everyone has their own traditions at this time of year. From arse-photocopying at the office party to arguing about politics with that relative you only meet once a year, the Christmas traditions vary, but it is comforting to have them all the same. And though many of us moan about hearing Band Aid blaring out of every shop soundsystem for weeks on end, the truth is, we’d miss it if it were gone.

But there’s one tradition that has always baffled me: Boxing Day sales. As far as I’m concerned, anyone with the energy to go shopping on Boxing Day hasn’t done Christmas properly. But for some, this is a valuable part of their festive season, it’s also when some people actually go out and buy their presents.

This is why it’s objectionable that MPs are debating banning shops opening on Boxing Day, thanks to another fatuous online petition. Labour MP Helen Jones backed the bid, branding the sales a ‘debt-fuelled shopping binge’. Frankly, Jones can bog off. If schlepping through the shops is how people wish to spend their time and money, that’s none of her business.

Some are arguing that employees are forced to work on Boxing Day. Yes, there are low-paid retail workers who may have to sacrifice a day of the holiday, but are we about to demand that pubs close as well? What about restaurants? What about the poor sods who have to process the Amazon orders that will flow in, ban or no ban? Boxing Day is one of the most profitable days of the year for the retail sector, it should be allowed to continue.

As if to reassure us, the government statement prior to the debate says that it won’t tell retailers ‘how to run their shops or how best to serve their customers’. If only the government could just extend that approach to far more aspects of our lives we would all have a much happier Christmas.

Guy Birchall is a writer based in London.

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