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Marks & Spencer to keep its stores closed in the UK on Boxing Day

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In an earlier announcement, Marks & Spencer (LON: MKS) had expressed plans of opening more than 200 of its countrywide stores for the public on 26th December to benefit from post-Christmas sales that traditionally surge sharply on Boxing Day every year.

Shares of the company opened about 1.5% down on Friday and slid another 1.5% in the next hour. Including the price action, Marks & Spencer now has a per-share price of 128 pence that represents a close to 40% decline year to date in the stock market. Learn more about how can you start trading on the stock market.

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M&S cut 7 thousand jobs in August

On Thursday, however, the clothing and food retailer reversed its decision and offered an extended break to its workforce over the festive period. M&S currently employs over 70 thousand workers. In the first week of November, Marks & Spencer reported a loss for the first time in almost a century as the COVID-19 restrictions weighed on its sales.

In August, the British retailer was pushed into slashing its workforce by 7 thousand jobs in a bid to shore up finances amidst the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic that has so far infected more than 1.5 million people in the United Kingdom and caused over 57 thousand deaths.

The announcement follows one from the British government on Tuesday that COVID-19 restrictions will be relaxed temporarily for the Christmas period (December 23rd to December 27th). Up to three households, as per the government’s update, will be allowed to meet at home on Christmas.

The London-based company said on Thursday that all of its UK stores, distribution centres, and customer service outlets will now remain closed on Boxing Day – a move that it says is purely intended to let its employees spend more time with the close ones on Christmas this year.  

CEO Steve Rowe’s comments on Thursday

According to CEO Steve Rowe:

“This is a big decision, but it is absolutely the right one given the incredible effort everyone has made in the most challenging of circumstances.”

From 21st December to 23rd December, however, roughly 400 of Marks & Spencer’s UK stores will remain open for the public until midnight.

M&S performed slightly downbeat in the stock market last year with an annual decline of roughly 10%. At the time of writing, it is valued at £2.49 billion.