Plans to scrap the May Day bank holiday in England and Wales for alternative dates were recently outlined by ministers.
Under the proposals, the holiday would be moved to St George's Day in April in England and St David's Day in March in Wales, or a Trafalgar Day in October. Ministers said the move would lengthen the tourist season.
But, of the 2,050 people polled, 78 per cent wanted to see the May Day bank holiday kept in May rather than moved to another date, 15 per cent were in favour of moving it to October and seven per cent would prefer to see it in March or April.
More than two thirds said that moving the May Day bank holiday would disrupt traditional events, fetes and celebrations, while half believed that moving the bank holiday would create confusion and disruption for businesses and workers. A further 63 per cent of people felt that it was wrong to move a bank holiday traditionally associated with ordinary workers.
The May bank holidays were viewed by 81 per cent as a traditional part of British life and by 86 per cent of people as a time for days-out with family and friends.
Three-quarters regard May, and not October, as the best time for day-trips and visits in the UK. Given the option of keeping the existing May Day bank holiday and introducing a new bank holiday, 71 per cent were in support.
Euan Sutherland, CEO of Kingfisher UK and Ireland and chairman of B&Q, said:
"The sentiment amongst the people we polled is clear, hands off our May Day holiday. This is a national holiday so the public has a right to decide whether it should or shouldn’t be moved and the majority want to keep the May bank holiday where it is."
David Gwyther, HTA director general, added: "The May Bank Holiday is one of the busiest and most important trading days of the year. It would therefore be an enormous blow if the industry was to lose it, and such a significant loss of earnings would undoubtedly affect employment levels."