25 October 2015 signals the 5th anniversary of NE1’s Alive after Five, an initiative that has transformed Newcastle City Centre and added an estimated £591 million extra to the local economy.
Launched in 2010, Alive after Five was delivered as a cohesive package by NE1 Ltd that included extending shopping hours until 8pm, free car parking, an active events programme and a heavyweight marketing campaign to promote the changes and publicise the new offer available in Newcastle city centre.
Over the past five years the initiative, which is still unrivalled anywhere else in the UK, has attracted 9.7 million extra visitors to the city after 5pm and created a fertile environment to attract new businesses and allow established businesses to grow.
43 new restaurants and bars have opened in Newcastle city centre since the launch of Alive after Five with a further 26 scheduled to open by the end of 2016. An additional £152 million additional spend in the restaurant sector has been attributed to the Alive after Five hours with a further £8 million additional generated in the cultural sector.
Over the past 5 years, Newcastle has faced significant economic challenges. In this context, it is testament to Alive after Five and the evolution of the city’s offer that Newcastle has continued to attract huge levels of investment. Stand out investments during this period include the multi-million pound development of Monument Mall by developers, Hammersons attracting high-end brands into Newcastle including luxury jewellers, Rox, Hugo Boss, Khiels and the White Company, and intu Eldon Square’s ongoing transformation. Prominent retailers such as Primark, BHS, H&M and Marks and Spencer have all made significant investment in their stores during this time.
The previous ‘dead zone’ between 5- 8pm in the city centre has been replaced by a bustling city centre. While footfall declined by an average of 1.6% in the UK, Newcastle continues to buck the trend and has seen a 4.5% rise.
Events like NE1 Restaurant Week have helped to create a buzz in the city at traditionally quiet times of the year and have become established dates in the city’s event calendar.
Commenting on the success of Alive after Five, Sean Bullick Chief Executive NE1 Ltd said:
“Alive after Five has transformed the city– the shutters are up, the lights are on and people are in the city enjoying the ever-changing offer. The city is much more cosmopolitan and welcoming in the early evening and is now far more attractive to a wider audience. From our international student population to families and older, more discerning consumers looking for culture and fine food, Newcastle’s offer is constantly evolving and catering to a more diverse demographic than it was previously.
“We continue to support Alive after Five with events like Monument Movies and Restaurant Week and we are always on the looking to improve our offer and make the city more attractive for those that live, work and visit Newcastle.”
Ollie Vaulkhard, Director of the Vaulkhard Group endorsed Alive after Five:
“Alive after Five is now an intrinsic part of the cocktail of what makes Newcastle a positive environment in which to live, work and do business. Whether you are driving a taxi, selling flowers, or beer there is a growing confidence about the city and people are coming into town again, conducting their lives here. From the perspective of my business and as someone who lives in Newcastle, Alive after Five and all its support network of free car parking after 5pm and events has contributed to the feel good factor in the city.”
David Williams, Store Manager of Debenhams Newcastle added:
“Alive after Five has been fantastic for us and provides more choice for our customers and as a result we have seen a significant uplift in customer visits after 5pm. Post 5pm trade now accounts for 15% of our daily sales. We are 100% behind Alive after Five and love the extra buzz and positivity it gives to the city.”
Phil Steele, General Manager of intu Eldon Square commented:
“Alive after Five has been successful because it offers consumers greater choice in when and how they shop. It has helped create the right environment for growth and investment in the city, as seen in our own ongoing transformation of intu Eldon Square. Unlocking the early evening has been incredibly important for retailers and the Alive after Five hours are now an integral part of the day’s trade which we are continuing to invest in to complement the opening of our 22 restaurants in the Grey’s Quarter in Autumn 2016.