Traders hope for busy summerBy Victoria Corbett
June 16, 2009
A late-night shopping event in Wokingham town centre succeeded in entertaining visitors but failed to boost traders' footfall.
Open-air dance lessons and more time to browse Wokingham shops was offered in a bid to draw more customers to the town centre last month.
But of the event’s entertainment in Market Place proved popular, traders have reported the late-night shopping did not pull in extra shoppers.
However, long-standing retailers in the town are positive about next month’s Summer Season evening and have other events aimed at boosting trade planned for the summer.
Jan Rixon, owner of TG Art Gallery in Peach Street, said she served one customer during last Thursday’s event, but they were collecting a picture they had already ordered.
She said: “I think the biggest thing was that not many people knew about it.
“We need to get big coverage on it before the next one, especially now that Wallis is coming in to the town. It is good news.”
Lynda Low, owner of Bookends in Peach Street, also reported a quiet evening’s trade.
She will also be calling for better publicity in the run-up to the two future Summer Season events.
Town mayor Councillor UllaKarin Clark, who was at the event last Thursday, said it should have been more about getting shoppers in to the town than providing entertainment.
During the evening, Red Hot Salsa provided open air dance lessons and Wokingham Youth Performing Arts Group showed their skills.
Children were also entertained by a face painter and street performer, who brought balloons and magic tricks.
The Summer Season events are aimed at highlighting what is on offer in Wokingham town centre, including its bars, restaurants and shops.
Wendy Crosson-Smith, Wokingham Borough Council area manager for Wokingham town and the south east of the borough, said: “To see people dancing in the street in Wokingham town centre was wonderful and it was a great fun evening for those who came along.
“This was just the beginning and we hope that as more people hear about these evenings, more people will come and enjoy them because Wokingham has a huge amount to offer.
“It has been a pleasure working with many of the shops and businesses on this because there is a real enthusiasm to showcase Wokingham town centre in a fun way.
“Of course, nobody is naïve enough to think that evenings of entertainment – no matter how well supported – will alone get us through the economic downturn.
“But being positive and focusing on the great things we can offer has got to be the right way ahead.”
The town centre will have more late-night openings on Thursday, July 2, and Thursday, August 6.
Another boost for the town will be the third annual Wokingham Food and Drink Festival, which will take place on the August Bank Holiday weekend from Saturday, August 29, to Sunday, August 30.
Cooking demonstrations and food from local and national producers will be showcased at the festival, which has proven popular in previous years.
Any shop, businesses or resident wanting to be involved in the forthcoming Summer Season events can contact Wendy Crosson-Smith on (0118) 974 6261.
To get involved with the food festival contact Kate Lole on (0118) 978 8801.