Open All Hours
Surprisingly town wasn’t as busy as I had expected on the last Saturday before Christmas. The papers called it Panic Saturday expecting people to be dashing around buying last minute presents. I must admit to still doing Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve before now, but now that shops are open longer hours it takes off some of the pressure.
Merry Hill shopping centre, not too far from us, was open until midnight on the last Friday before Christmas which definitely helped us. I think that as a society we are becoming used to expecting everything to be available when we want regardless of day or time. Whilst this seems good and an advance from the “old” days when only newsagents opened on Sundays, and in the mornings only, you’ve got to wonder whether it is an improvement.
There is something peaceful about driving through town on Christmas Day, seeing everywhere closed. Even if you wanted something, there is nowhere to go, although I expect some convenience store would still be open somewhere. But with the majority of places closed there is no pressure or nagging thoughts about dashing to get a last minute something.
Before rushing to embrace a true 24/7 society it would be worth looking at the effects of working night shifts. Shift work has been linked to higher rates of diabetes, heart attacks and cancer. The body is fine tuned to be asleep during darkness and awake during daylight hours. Around 6% of our genes are set to be more or less active depending upon the time of day. Going against this and being active or working through the night has some profound effects on the inner workings of the body. So whilst it might be good to grab a coffee in the middle of the night from the local Starbucks or go shopping around your local 24/7 supermarket, spare a thought for both your and the shop-worker’s health.