Letter writer Ivan Humphrey was less than impressed with Kettering town centre’s festive offering this year...
I was recently press ganged by my wife into assisting her combat the constant craving that she has for retail therapy, which included a brief daytime trip to see a sample of the wares that Kettering’s town centre had to offer.
I’m happy to report that the majority of the shops were open, and we did at least part with some of my money.
As for the late night shopping extravaganza on Thursday evening; walking home from the station around 6pm, the traffic was queuing back all the way along Northfield Avenue.
I naturally assumed that most of the cars were heading towards the town centre. Wrong!
I was told by my son, who had the misfortune to be working late that evening, that there was only a total of five shops in the whole of the Newlands centre which had decided to extend their opening hours until 8pm.
In his words, “everywhere was dead”.
What a difference to the experiences that I had of Kettering’s late night shopping as a teenager growing up in the very early 1980s.
For starters, almost every shop was open until 9pm.
Fairground rides and other attractions were placed along almost the entire length of Gold Street to keep the children amused. There were so many multi-coloured lights on display that one could have compared it with diwali, the Hindu festival of light.
Compare that to the present day. Gold Street has all the Christmas cheer depicted from a scene in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The only thing that was missing was an image of the Ghost of Christmas Past to really put a dampener on all the festivities.
Clearly, Kettering’s shrinking band of retailers no longer think it is worthwhile extending their opening hours any more. And those that do, do so begrudgingly. Give it a year or two and late night Christmas shopping will quietly slip away into the annals of history, that’s if it hasn’t already done so!
Ivan Humphrey, Kettering