The Christian owner of one of the largest toy store chains in the U.K. has decided to keep all of its 149 branches closed on Christmas Eve this year so the staff can spend time with their families.
The Entertainer faces losing nearly £2.3 million (US$3.8 million) in sales by closing on Christmas Eve, but owner Gary Grant says he believes that the gain for the families of his 1,700 workers is worth it.
Grant, a devout Christian, refuses to open on Sundays as he believes that giving his staff the time off on that day helps strengthen family life, which he says is already "under attack enough."
"I have given the concept of one day in seven as a day of rest a lot of thought and I am not making an exception just because it is Christmas Eve," he said, according to Daily Mail.
"I value families. I have four children and six grandchildren. I employ a lot of parents, grandparents, uncles and aunties. It is convenient that everybody has the same day off, that parents can be off at the same time as their children," he added.
Grant said that he does not know any other shops being closed on Christmas Eve — when experts expect shoppers to spend a total of £1 billion (US$1.34 billion) as people make a last-minute dash to buy presents and supplies for Christmas.
His decision not to open on Christmas Eve has been commended by the shop workers' union Usdaw. "Staff in retail work very long hours in the run-up to Christmas. Our members tell us they need time off to recuperate as well as to spend time with their family and friends. That is especially important when they have children," a spokesman said.
Grant, who describes himself as a "charismatic Christian," said that he tries to apply Christian values to every aspect of his business, giving away 10 percent of his profits to charity in line with biblical teaching.
He also refuses to sell items with occult themes, including Halloween witches' costumes and Harry Potter merchandise. In a 2009 interview with The Guardian, Grant noted that he does not stock toy trolls because it is being marketed as creatures with "magical, mystical powers of good luck."
Grant entered the toy store business in 1981 after taking over a local shop in Amersham, Buckinghamshire. The company now makes a £9 million profit each year on sales of £150 million and it opened 16 new stores this year.
He said that he will be attending church in London on Christmas Eve as usual before helping his wife prepare for Christmas Day.