Ann Summers boss Jacqueline Gold has voiced reservations over a 220,000-strong petition calling for shops to close on Boxing Day.
The petition, which will be presented to Prime Minister Theresa May after garnering 150,000 signatures earlier this week, requests that retailers shut on Boxing Day to allow retail staff to spend more time with their families.
Retailers including John Lewis keep their stores closed on the day – however, Gold told Retail Week she was reluctant for the Government to enforce store closures on the day.
“It’s not up to Government or businesses to dictate how family time is spent,” she said.
“If families choose, as many do, to go out on Boxing Day as part of that extended holiday period that’s not for us to say they shouldn’t.”
Gold stressed that Ann Summers would never force anyone to work on the date, but said that finding staff that were willing to work on Boxing Day had never been an issue.
“A lot of people might be students or temporary staff who have different situations and aren’t celebrating Christmas – it’s not one size fits all,” she said.
Gold said that although Boxing Day was not a significant driver of sales for Ann Summers, she would still be reluctant to close all of the retailer’s stores on the day.
“We live in a culturally diverse country so I feel it would be a bit inappropriate, because it is a Christian time of year but not for everybody,” she said.
“We have to be very careful when we make decisions around Boxing Day or Sunday trading, we can’t just respond to one person’s viewpoint.”
The Entertainer’s chief executive Gary Grant, who closes his store estate on Sundays for religious reasons, was also reluctant to shut up shop on Boxing Day.
“Boxing Day is worth more than one week’s trade at the end of January,” said Grant.
“On Boxing Day I couldn’t be closed if the rest of the high street was open, it’s such an important trading day.”
Grant said the retailer closed a third of its stores on Boxing Day, but stressed that stores in shopping centres generated strong sales on the date.
Grant said The Entertainer’s employees were given extended leave around either Christmas or the New Year to make up for the long hours over the festive period.
“The way that the holidays have fallen this year mean that for many staff it is a one day holiday over Christmas and as an employer that values family that is very quick,” said Grant.
“If it were up to me we’d close on Boxing Day, the staff work very hard in the run-up to Christmas and one day off does feel very short.”