One of Britain’s largest toy store chains will keep all its 149 branches closed this Christmas Eve, as the day falls on a Sunday.
The Entertainer will likely lose around £2 million in sales thanks to the decision, but owner Gary Grant says it is important his 1,700 staff have time to spend with their families on Sunday.
“I have given the concept of one day in seven as a day of rest a lot of thought and I am not making an exception just because it is Christmas Eve,” Mr Grant said.
“I value families. I have four children and six grandchildren. I employ a lot of parents, grandparents, uncles and aunties. It is convenient that everybody has the same day off, that parents can be off at the same time as their children.”
The Daily Mail says that analysts expect shoppers to spend around £1 billion on Christmas Eve, as people make a last-minute dash buy presents and supplies for Christmas.
“I have the best staff in the high street. If that is the cost of thanking them for a hard season’s work, well that is the cost,” Mr Grant added.
“The toy industry is so reliant on Christmas: if you didn’t have Christmas you wouldn’t have a toy industry. So there is a fine line between running a viable business that gets caught up in the commerciality of the season, but on the other hand not losing the real meaning of Christmas.
“I know that if I do what I do with the right motive, I can rely on the fact that God will honour that. Keeping the Sabbath holy is one of the Ten Commandments, so I feel I shouldn’t be opening the doors.”
Mr Grant describes himself as a “charismatic Christian”, and refuses to sell Harry Potter merchandise as he does not want children to play with “darkness”. He also said in a 2009 interview with the Guardian that he did not stock toy trolls as they are marketed as creatures with “magical, mystical powers of good luck”.
“The company brought them in and lined them up on my desk and I felt a real uncertainty… they made me uneasy in my spirit,” he said.
Shop workers’ union Usdaw praised the decision not to open on Christmas Eve, saying: “Staff in retail work very long hours in the run-up to Christmas. Our members tell us they need time off to recuperate as well as to spend time with their family and friends. That is especially important when they have children.”