Sainsbury’s has said that it will close all its supermarkets, convenience stores and petrol stations on December 26th, to reward staff for their hard work across what has been another year marked by the pandemic.

The supermarket chain said that its Argos and Habitat stores will also remain shut on Boxing Day, giving around 170,000 Sainsbury’s employees the chance to benefit from the added day of closure around the festive season.

The decision from the grocer aims to offer its essential workers the opportunity to properly enjoy the festivities following extended periods of restrictions last Christmas.

Sainsbury’s chief executive Simon Robert 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 of our supermarkets, convenience stores and petrol filling stations, as well as Argos and Habitat stores, this Boxing Day. I want to thank our customers in advance for their understanding, which will mean as many of our team as possible can have a well-deserved break to spend time with loved ones.” 

Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis added: “ The pandemic showed just how important shopworkers are to our society and communities, as they stepped up and kept essential services running throughout. 

“Key workers have done so much this year and we don’t think it is too much to ask to give them the longest possible break over the festive season.”  

Sainsbury’s now joins the growing list of retailers remaining shut on Boxing Day this year. Morrisons will shut almost all of its 500 stores, while Marks & Spencer will follow suit, keeping all of its UK and Ireland stores closed on December 26th. 

Following the challenges of the early stages of the pandemic last year, Aldi, Lidl, Pets at Home and The Entertainer did not open on Boxing Day in 2020.