Waitrose store bans group of church carol singers

[UPDATE 23 December 2015]

Waitrose has been in contact with The Christian Institute to apologise for the stance taken at the Ponteland store.

Director of Retail Operations Mark Gifford said: “I’m sorry for any offence or misunderstanding we’ve caused. We are inviting the group to come and sing at the store on Christmas Eve if they would like to, and instead of them collecting money from customers, we will make a donation to Christian Aid.

“In addition I’d welcome the opportunity to meet with the group in the new year to apologise in person and to explain our approach to supporting the local community – as our shops do a great deal to support local causes across the country – including many activities organised by religious groups.”

Local vicar Revd Peter Barham said he “welcomed the invitation to sing” although they would be unable to do so tomorrow. He added that he was “very happy” to hear that a donation would be made.


A Waitrose store in the North East has banned carol singers from standing and collecting for a Christian charity outside its shopfront.

Management at the store in Ponteland, Newcastle Upon Tyne, said that they don’t want to “get involved” with religion.

The carol singers, from a local Church of England congregation, have been performing in the same spot for over a decade.


Richard Bevens, Manager of the Waitrose store, said: “We try not to get involved with anything to do with religion or politics when people are doing requests for collections and charities.”

“We get hundreds and hundreds of requests. We have to be very careful of what we say yes or no to”, he added.

The carol singers had planned to sing and collect for the charity Christian Aid, which seeks to tackle poverty around the world.

Responding to the ban, Ciarán Kelly, Head of Communications at The Christian Institute, said the move was “disappointing”.


“At Christmas millions of people around the UK are celebrating one of the great truths of the Christian faith – the birth of Christ.

It seems incredible that this particular store seems unwilling to accept the obvious connection between Christmas and religion.

Ciarán Kelly

“This is a disappointing decision, even for Christians who don’t share the more liberal stance of Christian Aid.

“It seems incredible that this particular store seems unwilling to accept the obvious connection between Christmas and religion.”

Instead, they stood outside a local Co-Operative store.


Peter Jackson, a local councillor, expressed surprise at the decision.

He said: “I would like to think they would review the situation. It is the season of goodwill to all.”