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Sinead Ryan: Veg out amid the empty Roses wrappers and turkey leftovers if you like. Me? I'd rather hit the shops come Stephen's Day

SO, when the turkey's been reduced to bones and the crackers pulled and the first of the batteries has fizzled out, what's your plan for St Stephen's Day?

Sitting around eating the last of the Roses on the sofa watching old movies is some people's idea of bliss.

Others high-tail it off to the races to try to make up the money they've spent, but not me.

I'll be heading into the sales which, this year, thanks to the recession and some festive early snow, have turned Christmas into a one-day event. Blink and you'll miss it.

Desperate retailers are opening their doors on what was traditionally a sacrosanct day off so that the hoards of shoppers who missed out on some pre-Christmas retail therapy can get out and spend.

The usual suspects are whingeing already.

The trade unions have come out of the box to decry the move claiming last year's similar move should have been a once-off, exceptional situation given the plummeting sales figures.

Well, this year it's even worse, so shop owners are taking no chances. It's open or lose out.


Among those who are opening their hallowed doors are big names such as Clerys, Arnotts, BT's and the entire Dundrum Town Centre. Everyone might have been worshipping in church the day before, but on the 26th, the new mecca is the mall.

Arnotts, a store with its fair share of financial woes, trialled the decision tentatively in 2009 and it ended up being the second biggest day in the year in terms of turnover. So it seems a no-brainer to alter the plan permanently.

IBEC -- the employers' group -- said there was a public appetite for opening hours on St Stephen's Day.

"The public demand is there for it, it's a leisure activity for a lot of people and enough people went out to shop last year to make it worth their while for retailers to open," said director Torlach Denihan.

But some of the unions seem slightly out of touch with the whole thing.

They want all workers to be asked in voluntarily and for St Stephen's Day not to be seen as just another ordinary business day.

Well, tough -- it is.

And I imagine there are thousands of shop workers happy with the idea of making a few extra euros over the leaner festive period.

Long gone are the days when Christmas meant you had to stock up provisions for a week -- long-life milk, stale bread and soggy vegetables are no longer the staple for those boring after-Christmas days.

People expect to be able to get fresh food, exchange those unwanted gifts and use up those vouchers if they want to. After all, there will be lots of people working over the period and shops are no different.


It might be that the bean counters in head office are making the decision, but it's all to the public good.

Some shops are taking a different approach.

Marks & Spencer won't be opening until the 27th, claiming that they "prefer to give staff a break".

But would at least some of the staff prefer to be earning double-time by working?

A number of shops haven't committed yet. Next usually has a great sale, but won't say if they're opening on the 26th.

Of course the argument is that people won't spend extra money -- just spread out what they would have spent anyway, but I'm not sure.

2010 was a year, despite our financial woes, when we actually saved more than ever.

There is money to be spent but people need a really good reason to do it.

A giant red '50pc off' banner should do the trick and maybe a few more euros will trickle out of the bank accounts if so.

Starting early means people can make plans for the day rather than scouring the papers to find out when each individual shop is opening.

There's nothing worse than schlepping into town only to find 'Sale starts next Monday' written on the doors.

And, you know, if it doesn't work and people stage a sofa protest by vegging out at home instead, well then retailers aren't stupid -- they won't bother next year.

For me -- bring it on.