Store staff under pressure to work Christmas; 600% increase in open grocery stores

With nearly a third of grocery stores open on Christmas Day in the Netherlands this year, and over two-thirds in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague, there is growing concern about the increased pressure placed on retail workers during the December holiday season. The Netherlands is becoming increasingly influenced by foreign holidays and shopping behavior, and that is having a negative impact on work environments in the retail sector, suggests FNV union leader Linda Vermeulen.

Roughly 1,200 supermarkets will be open for business across the Netherlands on December 25, a massive increase over 2014 when just about 200 grocery stores were open, according to research from Openingstijden.nl. The following day, 2,000 grocery stores were open five years ago, but that number will top 3,250 this year. 

"We are noticing that after Black Friday, now also the English holiday Boxing Day is coming this way, where many products are discounted on the second Christmas Day," she told RTL Z. It means more people are working as late as 11 p.m. on Christmas Eve getting their shops ready for December 26, she said, and they are often scheduled to work those dates without being consulted. "And many store employees find that irritating, because they prefer to be home with their families," she told the broadcaster.

"We are moving towards a 24-hour economy."

The increasing trend of grocery chain outlets open on Christmas has been evident for years. Even last year only about a quarter of all grocery stores in the Netherlands were open on Christmas Day, translating to about 950, with many open as early as 8 a.m. Drugstore retailer Kruidvat plans to open 67 of its 913 stores nationwide on Christmas Day, and 277 of its stores on Boxing Day.

A handful of big box DIY stores like Praxis and Gamma will be open, along with several dozen Action and Hema store locations, writes website Max Vandaag based on figures from Openingstijden.nl. Also about 18 percent of restaurants will keep their doors closed on December 25.

Fewer stores are open during the Christmas holiday in the so-called Bible Belt region of the Netherlands, which crosses through parts of Zeeland, Zuid-Holland, Utrecht, Noord-Brabant, Utrecht, Gelderland, and Overijssel.

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