Shoppers to get midnight opening

ONE of Yorkshire's biggest shopping centres has announced plans to open until midnight from Monday after its trading hours were cut back during the last two weeks' icy conditions.

Bosses at Sheffield's Meadowhall said the decision had been led by major retailers such as Marks and Spencer who approached centre management saying that there was "pent up demand" from shoppers.

Centre director Darren Pearce said last night that retailers had been given the choice to open until midnight, and while many had taken up the offer, some had decided not to open later than usual.

He added: "A lot of retailers extend their hours at different times of the year, such as when Next opens earlier for sales events. As a centre we have a flexible approach which is led by them.

"We have been hit by the bad weather, but we are also hit by exceptionally good weather in the summer so we have our ups and downs, and today the place is heaving with shoppers."

Some unions have claimed that the extended opening hours will be bad for staff and that there is not sufficient public transport to get shop workers home late at night.

But centre managers said that there was "absolutely no press-ganging behind the scenes", adding that all the shops that had decided to stay open had their staff "100 per cent on board".

Mr Pearce said: "Retailers have been talking to their staff. Their opening hours are ultimately their decision".

The latest figures show that Meadowhall is trading four per cent up year-on-year with no sign of an "austerity Christmas".