Shopkeepers are the hardest workers in Britain

To find out which profession works the longest hours in the UK, look no further than the corner shop.

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 14 Apr 2016
If you thought doctors were workaholics, or that investment bankers, with one eye forever tracking the FTSE, the Dow and the Nasdaq, took the prize for most time spent at the office, then you need to check out the timesheet of the humble shopkeeper. According to the latest ACS Local Shop Report, the owners of local shops work the longest hours and take the least holiday of any profession in the UK.

The Association of Convenience Stores’ survey of 2,000 retailers shows that 60% of UK shopkeepers work more than 50 hours in an average week. That’s over seven hours each day, seven days a week. And there are very few shopkeepers slacking off: just 7% work fewer than 30 hours a week. As ACS chief executive James Lowman points outs, ‘Some are in store at four or five in the morning to receive the day’s newspapers and are still there late at night closing up every day of the week.’

Compare this to data from the Office for National Statistics, which puts the average person’s working week at between 30 and 40 hours. This is one seriously industrious bunch.

Many shopkeepers keep up this punishing schedule all year long too. The report shows that 51% of the nation’s convenience store retailers claim to take less than 10 days off a year, and a staggering one in five take no holiday at all. In fact, the UK’s shopkeepers are working so hard that they are actually breaking the law. Their hours exceed the legal maximum working week (48 hours) and the minimum holidays required (28 days a year) under the Working Time Directive.

While most companies shut up shop at least once a year for Christmas, these workaholics keep their businesses open all year round, and that includes bank holidays, Easter, Christmas and New Year.

Shopkeepers closest rivals – in terms of working hours – are those working in agriculture, forestry or fishing. The average working week stands at around 45 hours in this sector (well, any keen fisherman knows you can wait days for a nibble on the line). At the other end of the scale are those in accommodation and food services. These folk work just 28 a week.

So next time you pop out for a pint of milk or a paper, and your local shopkeeper is in a bit of a grump, give them a break. Sleep-deprived, over-worked, with no chance of a holiday any time soon, you’d be grumpy too...

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