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Changing the way we shop

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: July 19, 2012

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There's more evidence this week of how the arrival of John Lewis in Exeter is more than just another shop opening.

The new store, due to open in October, will open its doors until 7pm, 8pm on Thursdays, which looks likely to lead other retailers to follow suit and extend their opening hours.

That would represent a fundamental shift in the city centre, and could have a transformative effect on Exeter.

Seeing high street stores open for business into the evening is exactly what's needed if the city is to achieve its aim of growing its evening economy.

It's worth remembering that the proposed bus station development will be largely centred on 'leisure' businesses, aiming to keep visitors in the city for longer.

And with shopping now one of the nation's favourite leisure activities, that goal will be far easier to achieve if the tills stay ringing into the evening before the 'entertainment' time slot later on.

Of course, stores will only stay open if there's demand from customers. Would later opening and closing be more in line with society's needs in 2012?

To be able to finish work at, say, 5.30pm then head off to do some city centre-based retail therapy would be an attractive option to many.

That option wouldn't be open to the staff manning the counters and floors of the shops which join John Lewis in the twilight zone. Some will welcome the opportunity to work later, and perhaps more, hours, while it may be less attractive to others and that must be taken into account.

But overall, this has to be a positive step for Exeter. The idea that huge swathes of the city centre would pull down the shutters at 5.30pm, just as everyone else was freed from the shackles of their day job, could soon seem as outdated a concept as half-day closing.

Other sectors stand to benefit too – bars, restaurants, theatres, cinemas and all sorts of other places could reap the rewards of there being more reason to head into Exeter in the evening.

The initiative will only work if we support it, and we will only support it if it proves to be useful to us. It's hard to believe it won't be.

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  • kippax21  |  July 20 2012, 1:08PM

    Congratulations Exeter, welcome to the 21st century, i knew you would get there in the end !! My god, you might get a casino one day. A bit too late for me though, i'll continue to do my shopping at the Trafford Centre thank you.

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  • MrMeMeMe  |  July 19 2012, 7:18PM

    Umm ... Fluffy ...