Calls for Coles, Woolworths to copy 'wonderful' UK Christmas move

There are calls for Coles and Woolworths to follow suit after supermarkets in the UK introduced new store policies ahead of Christmas this year.

Major UK supermarkets Sainsbury's, Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, Argos and Habitat will all be closed on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day as a thank-you to essential staff, who have been working hard throughout the pandemic, The Mirror has reported.

This announcement, which was made after a petition calling for the change gathered 100,000 signatures, has prompted Australian shoppers to call on Coles and Woolworths to do the same.

“People are calling for families to be allowed to spend Christmas together, not working!” the petition states.

Coles and Woolworths sign. Source: Getty Images
Some shoppers are calling for Coles and Woolworths to close on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Source: Getty Images

Posts on Coles' and Woolworths’s Facebook pages, have since called for them to follow the UK’s example.

“Here’s a radical suggestion - I have just been reading that the major supermarkets in the UK are closing their outlets for Christmas Day and Boxing Day as a thank you to their staff,” the post reads.

“What a wonderful idea - a real break for our supermarket staff.

“Years ago it was the norm that stores were closed both Christmas and Boxing Day.

“People will still buy the same goods, they will just buy earlier - how about recognising your staff?”

Trading hours legislation differs between states, however Coles and Woolworths are traditionally closed on Christmas Day throughout Australia.

Shoppers respond to Boxing Day closure request

Calls for Woolworths and Coles to close their doors on Boxing Day have been met with mixed reviews from shoppers.

While many are in agreement with the poster's call, others are not so keen to see supermarkets closed.

“There will be panic if the shops are closed for two whole days,” wrote one Facebook user.

“What about the staff that are happy to work Boxing Day and receive public holiday rates?” commented another.

“Maybe they are recognising their staff, and public holidays are voluntary,” said a third.

Another supermarket employee also added a comment to the post, stating that Woolworths and Coles do show their appreciation to their team members over the Christmas period.

“Coles and Woolworths always give their staff a Christmas present, it’s just not common knowledge,” they wrote.

The SDA Retail Union is also calling for Christmas Eve to be made a public holiday.

“The SDA believes Christmas Eve is a special time which should be spent with family and friends, attending church, hanging stockings and wrapping presents – not at work, when trading hours have already been significantly increased over the Christmas trading period,” their website says.

Coles, Woolworths respond to calls

When asked about the calls to close stores on Boxing Day a spokesperson from Coles told Yahoo News Australia that they are proud of their team’s dedication throughout the pandemic.

“We are extremely proud of the important role Coles team members continue to play in their communities during Covid-19 and hope everyone is able to take time to spend with their families over the coming months as Australia begins to open up,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson did not provide a direct statement on whether they would consider closing stores on Boxing Day.

Woolworths truck in front of Coles sign. Source: Getty Images
Christmas time is one of the busiest periods in retail. Source: Getty Images

A spokesperson from Woolworths said working on Boxing Day is completely voluntary.

"Our stores are closed on Christmas Day and the vast majority of our team members don’t work," the spokesperson said.

"Our stores remain open on Boxing Day and team members can choose to work it or not.

"As it is a public holiday, team members are paid the applicable penalty rates if they decide to work."

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