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A proposal to cut school summer holidays in Wales down from six weeks to five has been slammed by retailers who claim that the move would be catastrophic for their businesses.

Under the changes, the six-week school summer holidays would be reduced to five in 2026, while an extra week would be added to the half-term autumn break in October 2025.

Andrew Johnson of Dafarn Newydd Store in Llandwddyn, Powys, Wales, is dependent on the tourist season and claims that cutting the summer break would be catastrophic. 

About 85% of our business is tourist based, so reducing that time would be disastrous for us,” he said. “We’re a mile from a major tourist attraction Lake Vyrnwy. We rely on that six week school holiday to get bodies in and if it went lower then you’re taking potentially a week or two weeks of our big trade away. [Over the summer] you’re looking at [sales] a couple of grand a week over what we normally take in in the winter. Trying to condense our tourist season into a shorter period of time, is obviously not good from a business model perspective.”

He added that the proposal would also be costly for families. “Taking away another week or two in the summer is just going to be sending families on holiday at the highest price point. So a double whammy, increased costs and less trade!”

North Wales-based Spar retailer Conrad Davies is equally frustrated by the proposal. “From a business point of view, it would be devastating to be honest with you,” he told Convenience Store. “It really would affect us badly.

“My business is in the tourist area. Our seasons uptick when the sun comes out and obviously the more people around, the better for us as a business. Our stores’ [sales] more than double [in the summer]. But I know for a fact that seasonal stores next to me, which are more on the beach side, their turnover’s near 10 times increase [over the summer break]. It’s criminal.” 

Tenby store owner Vince Malone, who is the Federation of Independent Retailers’ (The Fed) president for Wales, said: “This will impact on the summer trade. As an example, our town is full every week during the summer holidays and the trade lost can’t be spread across five weeks.

“It also puts pressure on staff members when booking holidays. Lots of our team have young families, and school holidays are the only time they can get away. It takes real managing now, and reducing the time available could leave us understaffed at key times.”

The Welsh government says it recognises that any changes to the school year structure could impact wider sectors and is engaging with the workers and employers from sectors outside of education as part of consultation, which opened on November 21.