Late night Christmas shopping opens in Cheltenham - TiG Survey
CHRISTMAS fever is gripping retail outlets throughout Cheltenham with extended opening hours starting tonight.
Many shops will be opening their doors for longer in a bid to attract more shoppers.
Traditionally, the festive season brings in 40 per cent of retailers' annual takings over seven weeks.
Sukhy Rai, owner of independent fashion shop Monty Smith, off the Promenade, will open his store until 9pm from December 6.
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He said many people took advantage of the later opening.
"Every shop is taking part," he added. "It gives our customers the time to go home for tea and then come out and go have a shop around for presents.
"We have had regular customers for years and it is a bit of a thank you to them from us."
Owen Ackland, manager of Beechwood Shopping Centre, which will be open until 8pm tonight, said: "Late-night shopping provides an extra opportunity for our retailers to reach out to their customers at this time of the year.
"Everyone knows how tough retail has been in the last year and any opportunity we can provide to the shops for the trade and for the shoppers to do their shopping needs to be explored."
He said it would get steadily busier as Christmas approached.
"It is not until the last two or three weeks before we see the benefits of opening longer hours," he added.
The shopping centre will be open until 8pm every Thursday night, extending to 9pm on December 20.
Santa's helpers have been at Regent Arcade's Santa grotto – which is filled with giant cupcakes and gingerbread houses – since Saturday, .
The Arcade will also extend its opening hours today until 7pm and will open to 9pm every Thursday night until Christmas.
John Forward, the arcade's centre manager, said he was expecting an increase in the number of shoppers.
He believes people will spend more this Christmas than last.
He added: "People have got a little bit more used to the austerity measures that have been put in place.
"They have worked around it and cut their costs in other places.
"During Christmas people tend to spend, maybe not more but they are more discerning to what they want to buy."
Centres around the county are also holding late-night shopping.
Among them is Chipping Camden which will be holding its annual Spirit of Christmas evening next Friday. Most shops will remain open until 8pm.