Asda becomes latest retailer to confirm Boxing Day closure
- Credit: Phil Morley
Supermarket giant Asda has become the latest major retailer to decide against opening on Boxing Day to give its staff a longer break over Christmas after the problems of working through the pandemic.
Its stores in Ipswich, Stowmarket, Bury St Edmunds, Colchester, Harwich, Clacton and Lowestoft will all be closed for two days.
It is joining Marks and Spencer, Waitrose, Aldi and Lidl in offering its staff extra time off over Christmas - although other supermarkets and food shops will open on Boxing Day.
Sainsbury's and the East of England Co-op have confirmed they intend to open. Tesco and Morrisons have not confirmed their opening hours - but both opened on Boxing Day last year.
Discount store B&M is not opening on January 1 to give its staff an extra day's break over the new year.
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Chief executive Roger Burnley said all of Asda's 631 stores will close for two days.
In a message to employees, he said: "This has been a challenging year and you have all done an incredible job, continuing to serve our customers and communities while juggling so many other commitments.
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"But it's also been challenging from a personal perspective as we have not been able to spend time with our families and friends, which has been hard for us all.
"As you know, the strict guidelines set out by the government will change between December 23 and 27 and more households will be able to gather together.
"This is of course our busiest time of year but it was important for us to give as many of you as possible the opportunity to spend this time with those loved ones that you may not have not seen for many months so, uniquely for this year, we will not reopen our stores until December 27."
Asda said staff who were contracted to work on Boxing Day will be paid, adding that all eligible hourly-paid workers will receive a guaranteed 100% bonus for their "unstinting hard work and commitment" during 2020, which will be paid in February 2021.
Paddy Lillis, general secretary of the shop workers' union Usdaw, said: "When the country faced a crisis unlike any in our lifetime, shop workers stepped up and kept essential services running.
"They continued to work and faced increased levels of violence and abuse, as well as being worried about catching Covid-19. So we welcome Asda doing the right thing by their staff with the closure of stores on Boxing Day.
"Key workers have done so much this year and we are asking retailers to give their staff the longest possible break over the festive season. We don't think that is too much to ask for."