Bah humbug! The reality of Christmas for shop floor workers

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Over the festive season it’s easy to get wrapped up in our own celebrations and forget that for some workers the pressures of Christmas make it a time of stress rather than joy. Here, we take a look at the experiences of some shop floor workers as a reminder of why equal pay is so important.


Adam King, an Asda shop floor worker for more than 15 years, said:

“The amount of stock we’re dealing with and the number of customers coming in can treble in December. It means that Christmas Day becomes just another day to me, it’s just a day off because you’ve been working non-stop.

“There’s a couple of days during Christmas period where we open at a minute past midnight. Usually, we end up getting a couple of hundred customers flooding through the doors as soon as they open. They attack like a wave flooding through the store. I used to enjoy working at Asda but there’s no pleasure for me there anymore. The atmosphere is completely different in there now. It’s gone from being a nice place to work to somewhere you just have to turn up and do your shift.”

Man Choice Vegetable at the Supermarket

Sally Wright, a Morrisons shop floor worker for more than 15 years, said:

“When you’re working on Christmas orders and you get down to your last customer, you’re hoping they don’t kick off and if they don’t you think ‘yes, I survived’. It can be very stressful.

“People who work in a warehouse don’t have to deal with customers face to face, they don’t have to deal with confrontation. You’re trying your hardest, yet you get screamed at by members of the public and you get no recognition for it. Receiving equal pay would go some way in making up for that and address the balance.”

Chris Myers, a Next shop floor worker for more than 13 years, said:

“I used to love Christmas but now, instead of being the most wonderful time of the year, it’s the most miserable. Instead of being about family it’s about sales.

Working at Next over the Christmas period is stressful and depressing. I’m working so many hours that I can’t spend any quality time with family and friends. Some years, on Christmas Day, I’ve been too tired to visit family.

“There have even been times where I’ve had to sign a form saying we won’t take any sick time off over the Christmas period which I find hard to digest because you can’t predict when you will get ill.

“With all this stress, you’d think Next would see that store workers deserve at least equal pay, but they continue to pay us less than warehouse staff which in my eyes is simply not fair.”

Jackie Cotton, a Tesco shop floor worker for more than two decades, said:

“There’s no Christmas atmosphere, it just feels like an ordinary time apart from the fact that it’s extremely busy. There’s always a lot more stock and you’re under more pressure.

“I work night shifts which can really impact the time you get to spend with your family. Come Christmas morning I’m absolutely exhausted and then by Boxing Day night I’d be back at working so you can’t really enjoy that family time.”

Have you worked in a supermarket store? You could be eligible to join the Equal Pay Now claim. Find out more here.


*Names have been changed to protect the workers’ identities

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