December 23rd is traditionally the day when we all stock up on groceries for the festive period. However, this year the 23rd falls on a Sunday.
The retailers are warning that this is going mean they have to squeeze the busiest shopping day of the year into just six hours - which could bring chaos and carnage to British supermarkets. As a result they have been devising a number of strategies to try to get through in one piece. Sainsbury's solution is being described as a 'lock in'.
'Lock-in'The term has been coined by The Daily Telegraph. The idea is that Sainsbury's will keep its tills open at some stores for an hour after the doors close. The stores will close at usual (adhering to Sunday trading laws) after six hours of trading. However, customers who have entered the store by that point will be given all the time they need to complete their shop.
Retail Week quoted Sainsbury's group commercial director Mike Coupe who said he expected the busiest time on Sunday to be between 12pm and 1pm, but that the day would be "the busiest ever day in grocery retailing". He said some larger stores will have a full bank of checkouts in operation for an hour after closing on the Sunday to "help customers get through the tills."
Sainsbury's is keen to point out that it's not breaking any of the rules, or extending trading hours. It said in a statement: "Whilst there's been no extension of trading hours for that Sunday, we'll be doing everything we can to make sure our customers can get what they need including recruiting an extra 20,000 people."
SolutionsAll the stores are keen to avoid distressing scenes over the festive period. In November, Morrisons and Asda wrote a joint letter to the government asking for Sunday trading laws to be relaxed for the day, but when this fell on deaf ears, a number of solutions have been devised by the stores.
M&S announced last week that it would open a number of stores from midnight from Christmas Eve, so that people could buy their festive food, and be back in time for breakfast. Waitrose has also announced an extension to opening hours on Christmas Eve.
So what do you think? Will you do your shop on the 23rd, shop earlier, save it for Christmas Eve, or head to M&S in the middle of the night? Let us know in the comments.