A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46

36 37 38 40 41 43 45

IX. Shopping in Holiday resorts during the holiday season

A. General

Existing shop closing legislation provides for a number of important exceptions from normal evening closing hours. Among these is the power granted to local authorities in holiday resorts during the holiday season to fix closing hours later than those normally in force for evening closing over the country as a whole. This provision can be justified on the a priori assumption that shopping in holiday resorts is very heavy and that holidaymakers need to shop late in the evenings. This section summarises the evidence collected on this question. As has been explained in the introduction the matter was approached in two ways. The general sample were questioned on some broad issues of holiday shopping and more detailed problems were put to two small panels of resident landladies and holidaymakers, who might be expected to have more direct knowledge on holiday needs and conditions. In view of the fact that a large section of the main sample may have no first-hand knowledge of holiday conditions, these result are kept separate from the more direct information of the smaller special holiday sample. To complete the picture, however, the main results of both inquiries are compared to ensure that a consistent account has been presented.

B. Main Sample

Attitude to later closing

Table 41 - Would it suit you if shops in holiday resorts during_the holiday season could remain open regularly after the usual weekday closing hours?

Opinion All shoppers
Yes 40
No 36
Does not take a holiday 19
Don’t know 5
Total shoppers (100%) 1939

The attitude of the shopping public to later closing seems rather undecided. The table shows 40% as favouring it as against 36% who do not. An additional 19% were unwilling to answer the question at all as they did not take a holiday. It does not follow from this that all those answering the question take holidays; some informants have not to date taken a holiday. Those recorded as “Not taking a holiday” in answer to this question, are merely the core of those who did not have holidays at the time of the Survey.

Suitable closing times

In view of the fact that a substantial body of shoppers, 40% in all, express a need for later shopping facilities in holiday resorts, the information gathered so far merely relates the needs of holiday shoppers to their own conception of usual closing hours. A more objective yardstick is needed, consequently informants wanting later closing were asked “What closing hour would suit you?”

Table 42 - Summary of suitable closing hours suggested by holiday shopper s

Time Holiday shoppers
Before 6.15 2
6.16 -6.45 7
6.46 -7.15 27
7.16 - 7.45 13
7.46 - 8.15 28
8.16 - 8.45 6
8.46 - 9.15 8
9.16 - 9.45 0
After 9.45 3
Any time 4
Don’t know 1
No answer 1
Total needing later closing (100%) 781

Peak preferences among those favouring late closing were between 7.46 to 8.15. A closing time around 8 p.m. would satisfy 80% of those wanting late closing, quite apart from the equally large group who would favour the retention of usual weekday closing hours. If the closing hour were fixed for 9 p.m., over 95% of the late shoppers would be satisfied and the whole issue put beyond any doubt. It was not possible to enquire of the main sample for what specific commodities such later shopping was needed, but it is on points like these that the special holiday sample should be able to supply information.

Attitude to half day closing

The weekly half holiday is an accepted tradition in the distributive trade, on whose desirability as such the shopping public was not even questioned in the Survey. For the holiday season however, it was felt that special shopping needs might arise which would make half day closing exceedingly inconvenient for some people. Hence shoppers were asked ‘does it suit you if those shops close for a normal weekly half holiday?”

Table 43 - Does it suit you if shops in holiday resorts shut for normal weekly half-holiday?

Opinion All shoppers
Yes 68
No 11
Does not take a holiday 18
Don’t know 2
No answer 1
Total shoppers (100%) 1939

The issue of half day closing for shops in holiday resorts does not seem to be in doubt. Only 11% of the ring the season.

B. Special Holiday Sample


In the introductory chapter a short account was given of the object and structure of the special holiday sample. Perhaps it is worth restating that it was felt that two small groups of resident landladies and holidaymakers would provide a more direct picture of experience than ordinary national sample, to many of whom this problem would be both unreal and academic.

Facts on holidaymakers

Length of stay

A large proportion of holidaymakers are merely day trippers. All holidaymakers were asked ‘Are you on holiday here for one day only?

Table 44 - Length of stay of HolidayMakers.

Length of Stay HolidayMakers (%)
1 day only 22
More than one day 78
All holidaymakers (100%) 200

It seems then that nearly one quarter of all holidaymakers at the time of inquiry, in the towns sampled were day trippers. This has an important bearing on shopping problems in holiday resorts. In general it does not seem likely that day trippers will have any of the household shopping commitments that beset some other holidaymakers. Moreover the fact that they must return in the evening may make them less sensitive to closing hours. On the other hand the day tripper may find arriving at a resort on the day of the weekly half holiday an inconvenient experience.

Type of Accommodation

Table 45 - Type of accommodation used by holidaymakers

Type of Accommodation Holidaymakers (%)
Hotel 11
Boarding house 49
Own food and rooms 18
Day trippers 22
No answer -
Total holidaymakers (100%) 200

Nearly half the holidaymakers are accommodated in boarding houses and another 11% in hotels. A substantial group, however, 18% in all, fend for themselves, and provide their own food and rooms. This group of holidaymakers has good reason to be concerned with problems of household holiday shopping and of closing hours; those living in hotels and boarding houses though, are not likely to be affected by household shopping even if they do undertake small amounts of personal shopping.

Time and day of arrival

A view often expressed by those with knowledge of holiday habits is that peak arrivals at holiday resorts are over the weekend and as many of these arrivals occur in the evening - a special case exists for late shopping facilities. Without late shopping facilities the late arrival would not for instance be able to purchase the household food in time for the weekend. How true this belief is in practice was examined in the questions “What day of the week did you arrive?”, “What time of day was it?”

Table 46 - Analysis- of day of arrival of holidaymakers

Day of arrival Holidaymakers (%)
Monday 15
Tuesday 6
Wednesday 7
Thursday 7
Friday 8
Saturday 47
Sunday 10
Total holidaymakers (100%) 200

Table 47 - Analysis of time of arrival of holidaymakers

Time of arrival Holidaymakers (%)
Before 10 a.m. 7
10.1 - 12 19
12.1 - 2 7
2.1 - 4 20
4.1 - 5 11
5.1 - 6 12
6.1 - 7 6
7.1 - 8 1
8.1 - 9 1
After 9 p.m. 2
No answer 1
Total holidaymakers (100%) 200

Some substance is given to the view already expressed. Nearly half the holidaymakers arrive at a resort on the Saturday. No doubt there are many holidaymakers who would rather not arrive on this day, but on account of their work they have little choice. It is quite likely that some Saturday arrivals will be concerned to stock up before the weekend. Moreover 42% of holidaymakers arrive in a resort after 4 p.m.; since quite a number of these may want to shop that day, evening closing is not an entirely academic question. It should also be remembered that most of the 22% day trippers probably arrive before 4 p.m. . So that arrivals after 4 p.m. are nearly all holidaymakers who are spending more than one day at the resort.

In view of the large total of Saturday arrivals a special analysis of their arrival times is set out.

Table 48 - Analysis of times of Saturday arrivals.

Time of arrival Saturday arrivals
Before 4 P.M. 58
After 4 P.M. 41
No answer 1
Total arrivals (100%) 93

Over 40% of holidaymakers arriving on a Saturday get to a resort after 4 p.m.in the afternoon. It is possible then that some of this substantial group have weekend shopping commitments that can only be satisfied by evening shopping.

Shopping commitments in holiday resorts

Use of Shops

Consideration of the extent to which shops are used in holiday resorts throws some light on the possibility of evening closing problem becoming acute. Landladies and holidaymakers were asked “do you use shops in this town stocking any of these goods?”

Table 49 - Use of shops selling different types of commoditie s

Type of Commodity Landladies Holidaymakers
Don’t Use
Don’t Use
Food 99 1 38 62
Clothing, drapery 90 10 19 81
Furniture 60 40 3 97
Ironmongery, etc. 97 3 9 91
Books, stationery 96 4 64 36
Tobacco, sweets 93 7 70 30
Ice-cream, min. waters 68 32 67 33
Newly cooked provisions 49 51 31 69
Total sample (100%) 200 200

An outstanding feature is the high shopping commitments of Local Landladies; only in the case of furniture, ice-cream, mineral waters and newly cooked provisions is the user figure at all below 90%. Certainly landladies’ shopping activity is well above the average activity for women recorded in the main sample. Holidaymakers shopping commitments are quite different. A substantial proportion (38%) use food shops, otherwise their main interests are directed not unexpectedly to books and stationery, tobacco and sweets, ice-cream and mineral water; in all these cases the user figure is above 60%. Summing up then, landladies' shopping commitments cover a wide field, holidaymakers purchases are more specialised and tend to cover items of personal shopping only.

Usual shopping times

An analysis of the shopping times of landladies and holidaymakers was carried out to see whether shopping times in holiday resorts differed widely from normal habits over the country and in particular to see whether there were any signs that shopping was being crowded into the available hour of the day. the resulting table is to merit full reproduction but one or two brief comments are worth making.

Generally landladies' shopping times are very similar to the habits of housewives revealed in the main sample. Lunch hour shopping is insignificant; food shopping is primarily a morning activity, while other shopping is equally balanced between the mornings and afternoons. Only in the case of newly cooked provisions does shopping after 5 p.m. assume any large proportions. In the case of holidaymakers, habits are rather different. Shopping for food, books and stationary are concentrated in the morning. In all commodities there is little shopping after lunch. Purchases of newly cooked provisions after 7 p.m. are an important feature. Both groups of shoppers then seem to complete most of their shopping by 5 p.m.; however, newly cooked provisions are purchased at later hours and are presumably used to supplement meals. It is quite likely that the need to purchase newly cooked provisions late in the evening will seriously influence the public attitude towards closing hours or to the question of exemptions.

Table 50 - Till what timewould it suit you to be able to buy these goods?

Resident Landladies (200 = 100%)

Type of Commodity TIMES Phone orders
Don’t know
Don’t buy or not likely to buy
Before 4.45
After 8.15
Any time
Food 7 12 14 24 6 12 4 2 0 9 9 9 1
Clothing, drapery 6 14 16 26 8 7 2 1 0 9 1 1 9
Furniture 5 10 11 15 6 3 1 0 10 7 1 1 40
Ironmongery, tools, household appliances 6 15 17 27 9 7 2 1 0 8 4 1 3
Books, stationery 5 15 15 25 9 7 3 2 0 11 3 1 4
Tobacco, sweets 4 15 12 21 9 10 1 4 3 12 2 1 6
Ice cream, min. waters Newly cooked 3 11 6 15 4 7 2 4 2 11 3 1 31
Provisions 2 8 2 9 2 6 3 3 7 6 0 1 51
Summary of any different items specified 9 18 20 37 13 22 8 9 8 9 1 0 0

HOLIDAYMAKERS (200 = 100%)

Food 4 5 5 8 4 4 1 2 2 8 0 2 55
Clothing, drapery 3 3 6 6 2 1 0 1 0 4 0 0 74
Furniture Ironmongery, tools, 0 1/2 1 0 1/2 1 0 1/2 0 1/2 0 0 961/2
Household appliances 1 1 3 2 1 0 0 1 1 0 2 0 88
Books, stationery 8 6 12 17 6 6 0 2 4 11 0 1 27
Tobacco sweets 8 6 9 14 5 5 3 6 7 13 0 2 22
Ice cream, min. waters 5 7 6 11 4 6 2 8 9 14 0 1 27
Newly cooked provisions 1 4 1 4 1 3 1 5 14 5 0 0 61
Summary of any different items specified 11 11 17 24 7 12 4 12 19 13 0 1 8

It will be noticed that commodities are first considered separately and then consolidated in a section which summarises different times specified. Since informants may select different times for different commodities the percentages in summary then add up to more than 100; the individual commodity percentages however, add up to 100.

Holidaymakers who may shop before returning home

A special analysis showed that the number of potential shoppers who had as yet not done any shopping was not a large one. Nevertheless it was decided to take account of the opinions of this small minority of potential shoppers and along with existing shoppers they were questioned on their reactions to existing closing hours and were asked to suggest times till which shops should remain open.

Convenience of Closing hours in holiday resorts

The question “Are existing closing hours convenient?” was put to informants. it was hoped that the answers received would help indicate whether the closing hours in force in holiday resorts were inconvenient and therefore whether there was a strong case for special late closing. The question was put to all landladies who bought certain commodities and also to holidaymakers who either bought certain commodities or were likely to do before their holiday ended.

It is merely necessary to comment that the large majority of informants are satisfied with existing closing hours. With most commodities the percentages who find existing closing hours inconvenient varies from 10-15%; in the case of food and newly cooked provisions the percentage of dissatisfied shoppers rises to about 20%. It is safe to conclude that present closing hours in holiday resorts do meet the public’s convenience but there is a special demand for food products by a minority who need a later closing hour.

Suitable evening closing hours

All shoppers in both samples and the small section of potential shoppers among holidaymakers were asked “Till what time would it suit you to be able to buy these goods?” This question was designed to provide the factual data for estimating a convenient closing hour for shoppers.

The actual results are reproduced on the accompanying table.

The vast majority of landladies would be satisfied with a closing time around 7 p.m., though 14% of them who expressed a preference for buying newly cooked provisions at a later hour might be inconvenienced by such a closing time. Holidaymakers needs are somewhat different. A closing hour of 7 p.m. for the five main commodity groups would not inconvenience them because they are generally not so actively concerned with purchases in such shops. Their main interest would appear to be in the exempted articles - sweets, tobacco, ice-cream, newly cooked provisions and mineral waters. A closing hour of 7 p.m. would leave substantial minorities inconvenienced. Even a closing around 8 p.m. would still leave holidaymakers wishing to buy newly cooked provisions at a still later hour. Indeed the evidence suggests that what demand there is for newly cooked provisions is mainly at a late hour of the evening. A closing hour of around 7 p.m. would meet the needs of ordinary shopping, but the demand for exempted commodities extends later certainly 8.15.

It will be remembered that table 37 of the report on the main 80% of the public favouring later closing, being satisfied with a closing hour around 8 p.m., but that it would be necessary to extend that hour to 9 p.m. if it was desired to bring in a small minority. The material from the holiday sample suggests that this minority was influenced by the need to buy exempted commodities at later hours.

The case for later closing .

No evidence has yet been offered on the extent to which informants favour later closing as a principle for the holiday season. The issue is clarified by the answers to the question. “Do you think that shops in holiday resorts should remain open later in the evenings during the holiday season than during the non-holiday season”.

Table 51 - Opinion on whether shops in holiday resorts should remain open later in the holiday season .

Opinion Landladies
Yes 52 49
No 45 45
Don’t know 3 8
No answer 0 0
Total sample (100%) 200 200

It is clear that feeling over the principle of later closing as such is mixed. Among both landladies and holidaymakers there are very large proportions who do not want later closing at all. Certainly there was no general overwhelming opinion in favour of later closing.

All informants in favour of later closing were asked “For what reason do you want shops in holiday resorts to remain open later in the evenings during the holiday season?”

Table 52 - Reasons for wanting later closing during the holiday season.

Resident landladies
Visitors prefer shopping later in the evenings 8 16
More convenient for visitors 9 26
To help visitors who arrive late and still have shopping to do 12 5
Convenient after day trips and excursions - 6
Convenient for both visitors and residents 14 9
Spreads shopping out more - less rushed and crowded 3 3
Allows landladies and resident business people who are busy in the day to shop later. 21 5
Helps the trader take advantage of peak holiday demand and make up for slack periods 12 12
Later closing makes towns more lively in the evenings 2 10
Special need for food and provision shops to be open later 11 7
Miscellaneous 7 6
No answer 5 6
Total answers 105 110
Total people thinking shops should remain open later (100%) 103 98

Some of the reasons given for later closing are not specific. About 40% of landladies and 60% of holidaymakers give answers that can only be summarised under the unsatisfactory heading of general convenience. Some quite specific reasons for late closing are put forward but they only affect individually small sections of the sample. Perhaps the most important reason brought out in favour of later closing is that it allows landladies and resident business people who are occupied in the day (presumably attending to the needs of holidaymakers) to shop later. The contention that there is a very heavy demand for shopping facilities for visitors who arrive late in the evenings is scarcely borne out.

Attitude to half day

In the light of information already learnt it does not seem likely that there will be any strong opposition to the weekly half day.

Table 53 - Does it suit you if shops in holiday resorts close for a weekly half holiday during the holiday season ?

Opinion Landladies
Yes 80 72
No 17 27
Don’t know 1 1
No answer 2 0
Total sample (100%) 200 200

Neither landladies nor holidaymakers are particularly anxious to dispense with the weekly half day. Indeed field workers commented that most informants were worried that this question might lead to shop workers losing their half day.

Comparison between the main and the holiday sample

Although the basis of the two samples differ two questions were set with the same wording. Hence a comparison will show how far the general trend of results are consistent and so provide a check on the reliability of both answers.

Table 54 - Strength of demand for later closing, in holiday resorts

Demand Main sample Both holiday samples
% %
Want later closing 40 50
Not wanting later closing 36 44
Does not take a holiday 19 0
Don’t know 5 6
No answer 0 0
Total sample (100%) 1939 400

Although it could not be expected that the results of two different types of samples would be identical, nevertheless there is a marked similarity in the views of those who do express an opinion. Feeling is inconclusive on the issue and a very large minority do not want later evening closing in holiday resorts.

Table 55 - Attitude to the weekly half holiday in holiday resorts

Attitude Main sample
Both holiday samples
Approve 68 76
Disapprove 11 22
Does not take a holiday 18 0
Don’t know 2 1
No answer 1 1
Total sample (100%) 1939 400

Once again results confirm one another. Although there is slightly more opposition to the weekly half holiday in the holiday sample, neither sample reveals feelings strongly against the weekly half day. In fact a large majority of both samples find the weekly half holiday quite convenient and do not need to dispense with it to get their shopping done.

General Conclusions on holiday shopping

Landladies in holiday resorts are active shoppers over a wide range of commodities. Holidaymakers however are little concerned with household shopping, except for some food purchases and are mainly interested in buying exempted commodities. Landladies perform a considerable volume of shopping in the afternoon and are thus brought up directly against the problems of shop closing hours, whereas holidaymakers tend to do most of their shopping in the mornings. Saturday evening closing is likely to be a special worry to holidaymakers as a substantial proportion of these arrive in resorts on a Saturday afternoon after 4 p.m. and may therefore have still to make some purchases for the weekend. Although a small majority of informants believe that closing hours in holiday resorts during the holiday season should be later than normal evening closing hours, existing holiday closing hours suit the needs of most shoppers. A closing hour around 7 p.m. would meet the needs of general shopping, though the demand for exempted commodities extends considerably later.

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