All Sainsbury’s stores to stay shut on Boxing Day as a ‘thank you’ to staff

All Sainsbury’s stores to stay shut on Boxing Day as a ‘thank you’ to staff

Sainsbury’s is to keep all of its stores shut on Boxing Day, including the Argos and Habitat chains, to allow frontline staff to enjoy an uninterrupted Christmas break in acknowledgment of their efforts throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

The UK’s second-largest supermarket chain, which is also keeping all convenience stores and petrol stations shut on 26 December, said the decision was a “thank you” to store workers after enduring 18 months of pandemic conditions.

Simon Roberts, the chief executive of Sainsbury’s, said: “Christmas is a really special time for so many, but because of lockdown restrictions last year, lots of us weren’t able to celebrate in the way we wanted. In recognition of this and to say a massive thank you to all our colleagues for everything they have done during the last challenging year, we will be closing all our supermarkets, convenience stores and petrol filling stations, as well as Argos and Habitat stores, this Boxing Day.”

Sainsbury’s, which said the move would benefit about 170,000 of its 189,000 staff, follows rivals Morrisons, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer in deciding to shut stores. It said it had come to the decision after “listening closely to colleagues as well as trade unions”.

Paddy Lillie, the general secretary of the retail trade union Usdaw, said: “After discussions with Sainsbury’s we very much welcome the company closing all their stores on Boxing Day this year to give staff a proper break over Christmas.

“The pandemic showed just how important shopworkers are to our society and communities, as they stepped up and kept essential services running through out. We now hope that other retailers will follow Sainsbury’s lead.”

Sainsbury’s reported a £261m loss last year, despite a pandemic sales boom at its supermarkets and Argos outlets. The chain operates more than 600 supermarkets and more than 800 convenience stores.

Last year, it awarded frontline staff three one-off payments in recognition of their efforts during the pandemic. In March, Sainsbury’s, which says it has invested more than £100m in “rewarding colleagues”, increased the hourly pay for supermarket and Argos staff.

Roberts said: “I want to thank our customers in advance for their understanding,. It will mean as many of our team as possible can have a well-deserved break to spend time with loved ones.”