Marks & Spencer is to open at midnight on Christmas Eve morning after Chancellor George Osborne crushed hopes that large retailers would be allowed to open longer on Sunday, December 23.
M&S will open more than 160 stores until 10pm or later on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday before Christmas. As many as 14 will remain open until midnight and will open from midnight on Monday, December 24, the Daily Mail reported.
Osborne dashed the hopes of M&S, Asda, Morrisons and Selfridges, which had been keen for Sunday trading laws restricting the opening hours of large shops on Sundays to be relaxed on December 23, as they had been during the Olympics.
The large grocers will now aim to open for as long as possible in the run-up to Christmas to counter-balance shorter opening hours on what for many is the busiest trading day of the year.
Waitrose will open most of its stores until 10pm and some until 11pm from December 16 onwards and Tesco will open a number of its stores 24 hours a day. Morrisons will open at 9am on December 23 to allow shoppers to browse for an hour before trading begins at 10am.
Last year, more than 6.3 million customers shopped at M&S on December 23 as the retailer sold over 184,000 food orders, 279,000 turkeys and 1.6 million mince pies in a single day.
An M&S spokesman said: “To give customers a bit of a breather as they tick off those last few ‘To dos’ in the lead-up to Christmas, we will open 49 full-offer and 54 Simply Food stores across England, Wales and Northern Ireland from midnight on Christmas Eve.”
M&S retail director Sacha Berendji said: “We hope that these early bird hours on Monday will ease the pressure and give busy shoppers a bit more time to pick up Christmas food orders or last-minute presents.”