Leader: Boxing Day sales ban would gladden hearts

A campaign to ban retail stores from opening on Boxing Day cannot but gladden many hearts.

Boxing day Sales in Edinburgh.

After relentless TV advertising and online bombardment urging us to “shop till we drop”, the campaign by Labour MP Helen Jones for a shopping free break will surely appeal to many beyond the ranks of utterly exhausted retail workers. It must rank as one of the wonders of the world that despite a buying spree ahead of Christmas and with enough food to feed a household for weeks, millions return to the shops with a mere one-day pause to start all over again. Can it be true that we really do it for pleasure?

Already almost 6,000 comments have been submitted to the Commons Petition Committee’s online forum, the vast majority of which backed store closures. But alas, the comments may have come from the same group of desperate men submitting multiple emails.

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However much we groan about returning to the shops on Boxing Day, millions do just that. And it’s not just to return or swap all those unwanted or misjudged gifts.

UK shoppers spent £3.7 billion in the Boxing Day sales in 2015 - a six per cent increase on 2014. It’s not until January when the credit card bills arrive that the retail splurge begins to slacken – but then there’s Valentine’s Day, spring clothes arrivals and Easter promotions to revive the retail pace. The idea of a shopping ban on Boxing Day may offer relief to many. But the fact is that it is a highly popular day for millions more. And the government is staying clear: it’s is not for it to tell businesses how to run their shops or how best to serve their customers – and will therefore not be supporting the petition.

A day away from the high street? Dream on.