PLANS are being laid for a late-night shopping evening for Hungerford town centre.
The initiative is being driven by Martin Bakker of High Street floral designers Martin and the Magpie.
He has written to fellow traders stating: “You may or may not have seen my open letters to the Newbury Weekly News expressing my worries about this town’s future after the drop in footfall numbers.
“That’s why I was ecstatic to see the initiative of the Bridge Street retailers to hold a late-night shopping evening on December 3.
“It’s a great opportunity for customers, existing and new, to come and spend money in Hungerford outside normal opening hours... money that otherwise would have been spent in neighbouring towns or online.”
Mr Bakker has therefore proposed to hold a late-night shopping evening on Thursday, December 17.
He added: “I am aware that most of you will have been open the week before on the Victorian Extravaganza evening.
“However, I think we can all agree that the extravaganza is great for public relations, but not necessarily for sales.
“A late-night shopping evening is mainly sales, but could be both.
“I feel that if we pull together as a town and promote it well, we could have the streets buzzing again.
“Wouldn’t it be a lovely shopping experience with all the Christmas lights on?”
The town prides itself on having the best Christmas lights in the region – the spectacle uses around 380 Christmas trees and 400 strings of lights comprising nearly 50,000 LED bulbs.
Mr Bakker concluded: “I know it’s short notice, but I feel it would be a great way to promote Hungerford as a shopping destination.”
The initiative has been welcomed by the Hungerford Chamber of Commerce and chairman Nigel Perrin promised financial backing.
Mr Bakker who, in August triggered a lively debate when he publicly challenged the town to consider welcoming larger stores to turn around the declining footfall, said the response from colleagues has been positive but he needs help with practical details, such as providing promotional banners.
He said: “I really hope we can pull this off and make it a great success. If it’s a success, we could do it next year, too.”