With Boxing Day falling on a Sunday this year, trading hours will be shorter. What impact will this have on retailers in-store and online?

How important is Boxing Day for retailers?

Last year, it was the busiest shopping day of the year, according to Experian Hitwise. Footfall was up 18.5% year-on-year as bargain hunters scooped up items before the VAT rise.

Retailers are expecting another post-Christmas spike this year with another VAT rise coming into effect on January 4.

What’s going to be different about this Boxing Day?

This year December 26 falls on a Sunday, a day where, other than the smallest premises, shops can trade for only six hours. Major retailers usually trade for more than 10 hours on Boxing Day. Harrods, which opened its doors for the first time on Boxing Day last year, has decided to close them again.

Which retailers are opening?

Tesco is opening all Extra and Express stores this year. The grocer will open 401 stores compared with 257 last year. Asda is opening 105 supermarkets, while Sainsbury’s, which opened 95 last year, is opening 236 this year.

Argos is once again opening on Boxing Day, as is Dixons. House of Fraser and Debenhams are opening this year, but John Lewis will remain closed.

Other retailers including Marks & Spencer and Morrisons will also be continuing their usual policy of not opening on Boxing Day.

What difference will the Sunday trading restrictions make?

In London’s West End takings are predicted to be down £50m according to the New West End Company.

A petition to lift the restrictive trading law for the day, signed by Arcadia and Debenhams among others, has been unsuccessful.

Retailers also fear that condensing the busiest shopping day of the year into only six hours will be unpleasant and potentially unsafe for shoppers.

Will the high streets’ loss be online’s gain?

This Christmas is predicted to be the biggest ever for online retailers, according to trade body IMRG. Limiting the shopping window in-store could mean spend shifts to online. Argos is expecting its busiest web shopping day, with its Sale starting online at midnight on Christmas Day.

Many retailers are extending opening hours on December 27 to make up for in-store Boxing Day shortfalls. Marks & Spencer is trading for up to 16 hours on December 27, with its Oxford Street stores open from 6am until 10pm. Debenhams flagship store, also on Oxford Street, is open 15 hours and Dorothy Perkins and Primark 13 and a half hours.