And on the seventh day, we shopped

Last updated 05:00 10/02/2013
SUNDAY PLAY DAY: Could you do without seven day shopping?

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Why do we have shops open seven days a week?

I write under a nom de plume as I work in a retail store and do not wish to place my job in jeopardy. This is not because my employer is a bad one. They treat me well and they pay me well, but like all other retailers, they open seven days a week. They have to. Everyone else does.

I remember when shops were open Monday to Friday, with a late night on Thursday or Friday so that people could get shopping done. But the two income household made things more difficult to get everything done in that small crossover between work time and store opening hours, and as a result, we opened shops on Saturdays. Just for the mornings, we were told. And then Saturday afternoons, and then Sundays, and then public holidays became shopping days, and it was all done for the convenience of the shopper.

However, in rushing to provide convenience for the shopper, what about those who work in the shops? At last count, retail provided employment for about 193,000 people. Out of a total workforce of 1.98 million, that's about 10 per cent. Many of these people do not get a weekend day off, and work every public holiday.

Imagine that you are a retail worker with a young family. Imagine that your work requires you to work every weekend, all weekend. Imagine that you never get to spend a regular day as a family. Imagine that you spend all December slaving at work for the convenience of others, often working extra hours, and having one day off before you have to go back to the madness that is the Boxing Day sales.

Ask yourself what sort of a family life that leaves you with, and how did we get that way? How many children have to live without being able to spend a day with mum or dad because they have to work? Mum and Dad may well get a day off in the middle of the week, but that is no good when little Johnny or Jenny is at school, is it?

What happened to families being able to spend a day together? What happened to holidays being holidays for all, not just for those who work in certain fields? I do know that people in essential services will always have to work, such as emergency services and health care, but when did it become essential to be able to buy a lounge suite 362.5 days every year? 

When did the time management skills of New Zealanders become so poor that they need to be able to go shopping seven days a week?

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How about we embrace the notion of a day of rest, for as many people as possible. Let's get families together again. Let's get communities together again.

Let's look at what is important, and if you must buy that big screen TV, go for it. On Saturday. Spend Sunday enjoying it, with the food and drink you bought the day before.

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