Supermarket giant Asda has announced it will not open its stores on Boxing Day.
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.
“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 23rd and 27th December 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.”
Paddy Lillis, general secretary of the shopworkers’ union Usdaw, said: “When the country faced a crisis unlike any in our lifetime, shopworkers 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.”
Roger Jenkins, GMB national officer, said: “GMB has been requesting Asda to allow their keyworker heroes family time over the Christmas period, so we are really pleased they have agreed to our calls.
“It’s a shame this is not extra holiday – workers will have to book a day of their annual leave entitlement.
“But it’s a step in the right direction and GMB now calls on the rest of the retail sector to follow suit and repay these key workers with a chance to spend Boxing Day with their loved ones.”