Tesco and Morrisons will open their shops on Boxing Day despite calls to give staff the day off.
Unions say supermarket staff should not have to go in on 26 December as a thank you for their work during the pandemic
Asda, Marks & Spencer, Pets at Home, and toy store The Entertainer have all said they will close.
But Tesco and Morrisons have joined Sainsbury’s in saying they would open on Boxing Day for a limited number of hours.
Tesco said it would reward frontline staff with an extra 10% bonus over the Christmas and New Year period.
Morrisons said that working on the day would be voluntary with staff getting double pay.
Sainsbury’s will open but has reduced the hours after requests from staff. It said most workers would have Boxing Day off.
Supermarkets, which have been are classed as “essential” retailers during the pandemic, have seen their sales boom this year.
As part of a thank you to staff for their work during the pandemic, Asda said that all of its 631 shops would close for two days over the Christmas break.
Frontline staff will also get 100% of their bonus entitlement regardless of whether they have reached sales quotas.
Asda chief executive Roger Burnley said in a message to staff it had been a “challenging year” and they had “done an incredible job”.
He also said that many staff would have missed out on spending time with their families and friends due to Covid restrictions.
“This is of course our busiest time of year but it was important for us to give as many of you as possible the opportunity to spend this time with those loved ones that you may not have not seen for many months so, uniquely for this year, we will not reopen our stores until 27 December.”
The GMB union said it had been “requesting Asda to allow their key worker heroes family time over the Christmas period, so we are really pleased they have agreed to our calls.”
GMB national officer Roger Jenkins, said: “It’s a shame this is not extra holiday – workers will have to book a day of their annual leave entitlement.
“But it’s a step in the right direction and GMB now calls on the rest of the retail sector to follow suit and repay these key workers with a chance to spend Boxing Day with their loved ones.”
Usdaw, the union which represents shop workers, has also been calling on all retailers to close their doors on Boxing Day.
Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said at the end of November: “With the country facing a crisis unlike any in our lifetime, retail and distribution workers have stepped up and kept food on all of our tables.
“When others stay safe at home, they go out to work.
“The only way they will be guaranteed a decent break at Christmas is if food retailers close for Boxing Day,” he said.
However, supermarket giant Sainsbury’s, which has a large network of convenience shops as well as larger outlets, said on Wednesday that its supermarkets would remain open, albeit with reduced hours.
A spokesperson for Sainsbury’s said: “For colleagues that have requested it, we have made sure they are able to take at least two consecutive days off over Christmas.”
Tesco said: “Our stores are open for reduced hours on Boxing Day. Many of our customers rely on their local stores over Boxing Day – from families in search of essentials, to key workers needing access to food.”
A Morrisons spokeswoman said it would open its stores for a limited number of hours on Boxing Day but it was “working hard to ensure all colleagues get a meaningful break during the Christmas period”.
It said anyone who worked on Boxing Day would also get time back in lieu.
In November, Marks & Spencer said it would reverse its decision to open on Boxing Day so staff could spend more time with their families.
Poundland said earlier in the year that it would stay closed on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, while retailers including Wickes, Pets and Home and the Entertainer have also said they will be closed.
John Lewis and Waitrose stores are normally shut on Boxing Day, and will remain so this year.