The government today announced plans to make Christmas a 365-day event, so spreading the peak retail sector activity over the remaining six months of the year.
"We already have Harrods and Selfridges launching their Christmas promotions in July," said Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, "it would be a small and sensible step to make Christmas a year-round event and so even-out the public's spending and spread the peak demands on the nation's resources."
The announcement accompanies a Government White Paper published today, outlining the beneficial effects of reduced traffic congestion and greater availability of car parking spaces during December, as well as helping the retail industry with smoother, year-round cash-flow.
"A major problem with the traditional Christmas is that it comes at a bad time of year," said Secretary of State for Transport, Justine Greening. "The weather is a major hazard in December when so many people are rushing to buy last-minute presents, and statistics clearly indicate that hundreds of lives would be saved each year if people could choose to exchange their Christmas gifts and hold their family get-togethers during milder weather, when the roads are dry and frost-free."
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, is understood to have approved the scheme, saying that "It would be nice to get some extra bums on the pews for carol-singing in August, for example."
The proposal also wins support from non-Christian faiths. A spokesperson for The Assembly of Reform Rabbis said it would be a tremendous advantage if it meant that supermarkets would stop clearing their shelves of kosher margarine and latke-mix every December so as to make way for mince pies and Christmas crackers.
The retail industry, which is understood to have lobbied heavily for the plan, predicts massive consumer benefits. "We predict shorter check-out queues during December, year-round availability of cheap cooking brandy, and much shorter queues for the customer service desks during January," said a spokesperson for Morrison's. "Battery prices may stabilise, too, and it would be great for my annual bonus if we can get people to overspend every day of the year."
The proposal is attracting keen attention from overseas. A trade attaché for the Australian embassy said: "I think it's fabulous. You've no idea how much it would mean to us if we could have snowball fights at Christmas."
Resource-strapped local authorities are welcoming the proposal, and East Sussex County Council plans to follow suit by gritting its roads at weekly intervals all year round.