Welcome to Britain’s Holiday money-go-round

Welcome to Britain's Holiday money-go-round

Much of British business shuts down for two weeks over Christmas and New Year. How does this money-go-round affect Britain’s economy?

It’s four days after Christmas and for the next week, many offices and other business premises here in Britain will continue to be about as buzzy and populated as the Marie Celeste, with tumbleweed rolling through their corridors and no more action than the occasional security guard making himself a cup of tea.

Is this a post-nuclear winter? The final apocalypse? Nope.

It’s the great Christmas-New Year business shut down

“What?” asked my (English) neighbour as her eyebrows zoomed up into her hairline. “You’re working between Christmas and New Year? Surely someone in your business doesn’t have to?”

Whoops, I thought as she opened her gold-tipped wrought-iron railings that clank expensively on the block-paved driveway. Mustn’t let her think I work in McDonalds or Tesco … lowers the tone of the neighbourhood, my dear.

“It’s a photo shoot for a client’s website and we can only get into the premises during the Holiday period.” I actually was working up until Christmas Eve and will be nearly all of this New Year’s week, but wasn’t about to admit it to Madam Snotty. She already growls at our falling-down wooden gate and my son’s cars being dismembered all over the front yard.

“I see. Well, thank Heavens Robert’s office has closed down for two weeks. Gives us a chance to have a good rest and do some shopping both online and in the stores.”

So if you’re a retailer, how many hours have you got?

While British business people take two weeks off, retailers rub their hands together and cash in. Not content with spending fortunes pre-Christmas on food much of which gets thrown away and gifts nobody likes, the Brits stretch their aching credit cards post-Christmas by kidding themselves they’re saving fortunes on more stuff they will probably throw away and/or not like.

Retailers whinge and moan about white collar spending being down on last quarter or last year or last decade or whenever, but the reality is that while the amounts will fluctuate, there still is a a big spend. Every single year.

And with a large proportion of shopping happening online, trigger-finger reactions on buy buttons do retailers even more favors.

And the hospitality business?

Particularly if your hospitality business sells alcoholic beverages, not only is this two-week Holiday period a money-spinning bonanza, but also the best part of a further four weeks beforehand.

Holiday parties, lunches, dinners, etc. start at the end of November and usually don’t finish until the last few drunken stragglers have been kicked out in the small hours of January 1st to throw up the remains of their festive cheer in the parking lot. In Scotland, this goes on until January 2nd, and in any case this year is likely to go on for even longer as soon after New Year’s comes a weekend.

Yee-hah! It’s a jamboree. But …

Shop, store, warehouse, delivery, restaurant, fast food, bar and nightclub staffers may complain about having to work over the Holidays but whether they like it or not, it’s those irksome customers who pay their wages and keep them in work. And of course incentivized managers and their bosses love nothing better than listening to the tills ring at this time of year.

Welcome to Britain's Holiday money-go-round

The gruesome side of working over the Festive period, and the brave people who do it

Where I do feel sorry for people during this two-week Festive period is some of those who work in the public sector like doctors, nurses, ambulance crews, fire crews, the police, and so-on.

These are the people who have to scrape up the pieces when tragedy strikes and deal with the most unpleasant aspects of human nature on vacation and on the booze. Hat tip to them all. They may be getting paid to do this work but when you see the horrors they often have to cope with, it’s a about a lot more than money.

How do you feel about the Holiday money-go-round in Britain? How do you think this two-week shut down of so many business affects the British economy? Is it as much of a drain on it as some people say, or is it more of a re-distribution of spending?

Please share your views!

photo credit: Photo_Robson via photopin cc
photo credit: MIKI Yoshihito (´・ω・) via photopin cc




  1. Hi Suze. Here in Canada not many businesses shut down between Christmas and New Year’s these days – it’s more of a “slow-down”. It used to be that most businesses did but I’ve been self employed for so many years how would I know – I don’t 🙂

    I too feel sorry for the police, doctors, nurses, emergency services people, fireman (we had a big restaurant fire here in TO last week that needed 80+ firemen) et al who take care of us in our hours of need. A pat on the back to all of them 🙂

  2. Hi Trudy – I think Canada is more like the USA in that respect. The Americans tend not to slow down much if at all over the Christmas and New Year’s period, partly because their only public holiday during that period is Christmas Day, I believe.

    Here in the UK, as I explained to Michael Johnston on Google Plus (see above), you have three public holidays: Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day … and if those should fall on a Saturday or Sunday an extra working day must be given off in lieu in each case.

    Hence why many companies – especially manufacturing businesses – feel it’s more cost-effective to shut processes down completely rather than go to the expense and trouble of stopping and starting over two working weeks.

    As you say, though, those of us who are self-employed and many smaller businesses keep going throughout the Holiday period, albeit perhaps at a somewhat reduced rate. It’s a strange time of year from a business perspective!