It is 4 years since the launch of NE1’s Alive after Five initiative, which transformed Newcastle city centre keeping it open after 5pm with shops and businesses trading and free car parking after 5pm in all 7 council owned multi storey car parks in the city centre.
Since its launch in 2010, the post 5pm, ‘Alive after Five’ hours are estimated to be worth £350 million.
25 October was the official anniversary of the launch of NE1’s Alive after Five, a date that was marked by the release of new figures revealing the extent of the economic contribution the initiative has made since its launch. Since 2010, the number of additional visitors to the city after 5pm has been almost 8 million with the Alive after Five hours now worth an estimated £100m per annum.
NE1 identified that the city centre experience needed to change to continue to meet customer demand and changing shopping habits and to provide an improved experience based on greater value and convenience.
To deliver this, NE1 worked up a package of changes in Alive after Five that challenged the accepted wisdom that people do not want to shop after 5pm. NE1 conducted research that revealed that 80% of shoppers were in favour of extending retail opening until 8pm.
The Alive after Five initiative took off and has set a trend that other UK cities are now considering.
A number of new businesses and retailers have opened in the city since the introduction of Alive after Five drawn to the city by its extended retail opening hours including Jack Wills, Hugo Boss and soon to be joined by Michael Kors. There has also been a huge growth in restaurants and licensed premises catering for a more diverse audience
John Lewis Newcastle, which was pivotal in securing the launch of Alive after Five, and a staunch supporter of extended retail opening hours ever since, continues to endorse the new retail opening times, Karen Matthew, MD of John Lewis Newcastle said:
“John Lewis played a key part in the launch of Alive after Five and it didn’t take long for our customers to embrace the extended trading hours and appreciate the free parking. In the run up to Christmas Alive after Five always makes shopping more convenient for our customers. As in previous years, we expect ‘Alive after Five’ trade to pick up even more as we get closer to Christmas.”
The business benefits that Alive after Five delivers extend beyond the boost to retail, many companies within the business to business, educational and industrial sectors recognise the benefits a vibrant city centre delivers.
Professor Chris Brink, Vice-Chancellor Newcastle University “Newcastle University the feel and look of the city is very important. Our increasingly international student body expects to find a clean, modern, cosmopolitan city. NE1’s work, in particular Alive after Five, has helped to provide this by ensuring a welcoming and vibrant early evening experience.”
The dividends of the scheme have not just been economic; more than half of visitors to the city (53%) feel safer in the city centre in the evening, 83% feel safer during the day. Before Alive after Five, the city felt less welcoming after 5.30pm with shutters down, lights off and only a small number of people on the streets.
Gary Lydiate Chief Executive, Kilfrost commented:
“Kilfrost entertains many of its international customers here in Newcastle. Last year alone we hosted client visits from over 40 different countries including China, Russia and North America. Our customers are always bowled over by the city, its history, architecture and its modern-day vibrancy – The fact that the city now stays open after five is another great plus especially when you are dealing with an international audience who are used to cities that don’t sleep.” (Quote taken from comment piece – approval on its use in a release still to be sought)
Commenting on Alive after Five, Sean Bullick Chief Executive of NE1 Ltd said;
“It wouldn’t be an over exaggeration to say that Alive after Five’s introduction has been revolutionary – it was the biggest single change to retail opening hours since the launch of Sunday trading and has transformed Newcastle city centre after 5pm. Alive after Five is now firmly entrenched in the fabric of the city with more businesses continuing to take advantage of the benefits of extended opening hours, supported by free car parking which together with the intensive marketing support have been crucial to the early and widespread adoption of Alive after Five. One of the major strengths of Alive after Five is that it knits together the combined strengths of the city making it more convenient for visitors to shop, socialize and spend time in Newcastle.”