Petition to end New Year Day shopping in Scotland receives unanimous backing

The Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee has unanimously backed a petition to end New Year’s Day trading in large stores.

Sunday, 11th October 2020, 7:30 am
The 2007 Act prohibits trading in most large shops on Christmas Day and gave powers to the Scottish Government to stop them opening on New Year’s Day too – but it has never been enacted.

The committee agreed to write to stakeholders within the retail industry and urge the Scottish Government to conduct the required consultation.

Usdaw launched a petition last year calling on the Scottish Government to launch a consultation on implementing legislation already in place to ban most large shops from opening on New Year’s Day.

The Christmas Day and New Year’s Day Trading (Scotland) Act 2007 prohibits trading in most large shops on Christmas Day and gave powers to the Scottish Government to stop the opening of those shops on New Year’s Day too – but it has never been enacted.

In a recent Usdaw survey of more than 1000 Scottish retail staff, 98 per cent said that stores should be shut on New Year’s Day, three-quarters felt they spent too little time with friends and family over New Year and only four per cent were happy to work on January 1.

Tracy Gilbert, Usdaw’s Scottish deputy divisional officer, said: “We thank the petitions committee for their unanimous support and decision to progress our petition. 
“As Jackie Baillie MSP rightly pointed out, the First Minister agreed to look at Usdaw’s campaign but that was back in January and the Scottish Government is now saying it’s not the right time to do this.

“It’s been 13 years since the original legislation was passed, so it is difficult to understand when the government thinks it would be the right time.

“The strength of feeling among our members is clearly demonstrated by our survey and over 3000 of them writing to their MSPs asking for support.

“Retail staff work incredibly hard all year round but it is particularly busy and stressful throughout December.

“So they deserve to be able to spend time with family and friends.

“Hogmanay and New Year is a special holiday but this is not reflected in the experience of many retail workers.

“Under the Christmas Day and New Year’s Day Trading (Scotland) Act 2007 Scottish Ministers may, by statutory instrument, ban large shops from opening on New Year’s Day – subject to consultation.

“On behalf of Scotland’s retail workers, we are urging the Scottish Government to open that consultation and for MSPs to listen to shopworkers’ concerns about their work and life balance.

“After everything shop workers have been through this year, as key workers on the frontline of delivering essential services, they deserve a decent break over New Year.”