MANY shop workers are to get a rare Boxing Day break this year, with a host of big retailers keeping their doors shut.

December 26 was once a holiday for most shop workers, but in recent years only John Lewis has been the only major retailer maintaining that tradition.

For 2020, however, a succession of famous names are giving their workers the day off.

Marks & Spencer recently performed a U-turn after originally planning to open more than 200 stores on Boxing Day. The chain had already said it would open 400 of its stores until midnight from December 21-23.

Chief executive Steve Rowe said: “Throughout the pandemic, our colleagues have gone above and beyond to deliver for our customers and as we enter the busy festive season they are doubling down on their efforts once again to help our customers deliver the Christmas magic for their families and friends.

“This is a big decision, but it is absolutely the right one given the incredible effort everyone has made in the most challenging of circumstances.”

The move followed a similar decision days earlier by Pets at Home, whose chief executive, Peter Pritchard, said: “As a small, but tangible sign of our appreciation, I have decided to close all of our stores on Boxing Day this year, to give our colleagues much-needed time with their families and loved ones.”

In Poole’s Dolphin Shopping Centre, the revived Beales will remain closed.

Tony Brown, chief executive of New Start 2020, said: “We will be closing on Boxing Day. I have taken the decision to give our people tie with the family and to reduce the risk of Covid from having a big sale event.”

Home Bargains is also closing on Boxing Day – and said many staff would see two weeks’ extra salary in November.

The company decided earlier this year that staff required to self-isolate because of Covid-19 would receive up to two weeks’ pay. It is now giving the money to all staff, whether or not they have been required to self-isolate.

A spokesperson said: “We want to recognise how hard our staff have worked throughout some very challenging times and allow them to relax and truly enjoy the break safely with their loved ones.”

DIY shop Wickes will stay closed from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day for the first time in its history. Chief executive David Wood said: “It’s been an unprecedented year and we wanted to take a moment to recognise the tremendous effort our team has gone to.”