Belfast Telegraph

Long Christmas holidays are too costly, warns economist

By Clare Weir

Northern Ireland companies should reconsider taking long holidays over the Christmas period during straitened financial times, an economist said.

John Simpson warned that it was becoming more and more unrealistic for firms to take long Christmas holidays.

"Years ago New Year's Day was not a Bank Holiday and a few days off turned into a week off which eventually turned into 10 days," he said.

"The 10 days syndrome is still at play for lots of private sector offices and some manufacturers but not for the likes of retail, with some bigger shops only closing for one day.

"It's a costly process and if one was to be logical the holidays would be shorter when people are traditionally going to be out and wanting to spend money."

Nigel Smyth, director of the CBI in Northern Ireland, said that some sectors were still taking longer periods of leave over the festive season.

"I think larger manufacturers would defend their need for longer holidays, in order for machinery to be serviced and rested," he said.

But he added: "There is now a trend towards offering a service to clients around the clock and the clients have to come first.

"When the economy is suffering as it is now, firms cannot afford to lose trade by taking protracted holidays."