A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46

24 25


Days suited for half-day closing

Half-day closing is one of the conventions of shopping. It is just as necessary for the distributive worker to have his half-days as it is for any other worker. However, as distribution is a service at the disposal of the community it is important to ensure that days selected for half-day closing are not out of line with public needs. It is assumed then that half-day closing would remain the law of the land, and all shoppers were asked “which day would suit you best as a weekly half holiday for shops?” and asked to specify a convenient and any inconvenient days for this purpose.

Table 32 - Suitability of days for half-day closing analysed according to Occupation of Shoppers

(a) Convenient Day
Day All Shoppers
Retired and Unoccupied
All Distributive Workers
All Other Workers
Monday 1 0 1 1 1
Tuesday 5 4 6 6 6
Wednesday 41 46 33 35 40
Thursday 18 19 10 18 18
Friday 0 0 0 1 0
Saturday 4 3 1 23 2
No preference 30 28 48 15 32
Don’t know 1 0 1 1 1
Total Shoppers (100%) 1939 785 155 155 844
(b) Inconvenient Day (or days)
Monday 7 10 1 12 4
Tuesday 3 3 0 5 3
Wednesday 3 2 0 11 3
Thursday 5 5 2 8 5
Friday 23 27 9 23 21
Saturday 51 46 21 30 63
All with preference 68 66 26 69 78
No preference 30 32 71 28 20
Don't know 2 2 3 3 2
Total Shoppers (100%) 1939 785 155 155 844

The demand for Saturday as a late closing day suggests that this day will not be very popular for half-day closing; this view is borne out by the facts. 41% of shoppers favour Wednesday as the weekly half holiday and a further 18% Thursday. Support for Saturday is as low as 4% and the only group to show any interest in Saturday half-day closing is the distributive trade, where 23% would prefer a Saturday afternoon half-day. Apart from Wednesday and Thursday shoppers do not seem to have any other strong preferences for half-day closing.

The picture of inconvenient days is even more striking. Friday and Saturday especially, are singled out by shoppers as inconvenient for half-day closing. As these days were also selected for special late closing the fact is not surprising. Saturday afternoon shopping is so important to most people that even 30% of distributive workers would regard closing on that day as inconvenient. A detailed analysis of the inconvenience of Saturday half-day closing for certain types of workers was made.

Table 33 - Inconvenience of Saturday as half-day for closing analysed according to Occupation of Shopper

Occupation Total Shoppers (100%) Regarding Saturday as inconvenient
Housewife 785 46
Agriculture 69 62
Factory 244 74
Building, Transport, Public Utilities 158 70
Clerical 83 63
Distributive 110 29
Miscellaneous 186 47
Shopkeepers, Shop managers 30 27
Professional, Managerial 65 49
Retired and Unoccupied 155 21
Clerical workers in distributive trade 15 47
Miner 39 72
Total Shoppers 1939 51

Briefly all in occupations who find difficulty in leaving their place of work to shop on a weekday seem to be strongly against Saturday afternoon closing. Saturday afternoon shopping is not only a social event for many workers, it is their only good opportunity of shopping. Thus high percentages against Saturday half-day closing were noticed among factory workers, building and transport workers, miners and to a lesser degree among agricultural and clerical workers. It is safe to say that under present shopping conditions Saturday half-day closing would cause considerable hardship to important sections of the working population.

The results of a regional analysis of the half-day closing material indicates the influence of present conditions on public attitudes. Most parts of the country seem to favour half-day closing on Wednesday with some areas preferring Thursday according to the half-day closing day actually in operation. Saturday afternoon closing seems to be universally unpopular.


Shoppers hold very clear cut views on half-day closing. Over 40% favour half-day’ closing on a Wednesday and another 18% half-day closing on a Thursday; feeling in favour of half-day closing on a Saturday is very small indeed except among distributive workers where it is 23%. Over 50% of shoppers regarded Saturday as an inconvenient day for half-day closing and another 23% felt Friday half-day closing would be inconvenient. Workers, and factory workers in particular, had exceptionally strong feelings on the inconvenience of Saturday half-day closing. Distributive workers however were more readily prepared to accept closing on that day.

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