Is Christmas late-night shopping cancelled?

Stores in Norwich are reluctant to decide whether to open late in the run-up to Christmas because of

Stores in Norwich are reluctant to decide whether to open late in the run-up to Christmas because of Covid restrictions. Pic: EDP - Credit: Archant

Firms across Norfolk are taking a different view this year over whether to host late-night festive events.

Gone are the days of packed streets for late-night Christmas shopping in Norwich like this. Covid re

Gone are the days of packed streets for late-night Christmas shopping in Norwich like this. Covid restrictions are leaving many stores undecided over whether they will open late in the festive run-up. Pic: EDP - Credit: Archant

Usually stores open late on the Thursday evenings in the countdown to Christmas Day with lots of festive spirit in the city. However, this year, because of Covid, retialers are hesitant to announce their plans yet for the December lead-up while they monitor whether the numbers of shoppers making a return to the high street.

The newly-renamed Chapelfield shopping centre, Chantry Place, is opening until 8pm on the Thursdays in December and every other day apart from Sundays, until 7pm. On Sundays it will close at 5pm.

At Castle Quarter, Norwich’s other shopping mall, it has yet to confirm its Christmas opening hours. A spokeswoman said a lot of stores were “taking every day as it comes,” due to the restrictions and changing government guidelines.

Department stores Jarrold and Johnn Lewis in Norwich have also not decided yet on whether they will be opening late in the run up to Christmas. Last year, Jarrold started opening as late as 8pm on the last three Thursdays in November and as late as 9pm in December.

Prof Joshua Bamford, director of the Retail Centre of Research, Norwich. Pic: EDP

Prof Joshua Bamford, director of the Retail Centre of Research, Norwich. Pic: EDP - Credit: Archant

The lack of Christmas spirit because of Covid is being made worse by the fact the annual lights switch-on has been cancelled in Norwich and many festive events nationwide, including the renowned Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, London have been called off.

Prof Joshua Bamford, director for the Centre of Retail Research, Rose Lane, Norwich, said: “Footfall is low and that’s the reason why stores are undecided about opening. They are saying: ‘Why should we open for more hours and lose more money?’ The current policy is driving people out of business and yet the city is all about nightlife as well as shops opening in the day. Life is just not as fun as it used to be. Christmas isn’t going to be terrible, but it’s just not going to be as vibrant as the last few years and there’s no trend to see this change for now.”

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There are events currently still going ahead locally, although organisers are saying to check beforehand because things can change last minute. A Festive Gift and Food show is currently still going on at the Norfolk Showground from November 13-15. The same venue is hosting the annual Norfolk Christmas Fayre from December 4-5, usually held at Norwich Cathedral, so there is more space. An outdoor Christmas market is also taking place in the walled garden at Raynham Hall on December 5-6 with 75 stalls.

Other venues around Norfolk are offering some late night Christmas experiences too such as at Pensthorpe Natural Park, near Fakenham, which is closing at 7pm on December 10,12 and 19. And at Thursford, its Enchanted Journey of Light opens next month and continues throughout December and into January.

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