Media Relations: Manchester in late-night shopping 'experiment'

Residents of Greater Manchester are the target of a media assault as the city centre pioneers late-night shopping six days a week over a large section of its main retail area.

The new post-6pm retail hours mean shoppers will be able to visit hundreds of stores outside normal opening hours. The move comes in spite of a number of retailers reporting falling sales.

Manchester-based PR agency UltraViolet is running a combined marketing and PR campaign on behalf of Manchester City Centre Management, targeting local, regional, trade and specialist media. Its previous work with the city helped it secure the contract without a pitch.

Although various malls have embarked on similar schemes, this will be the first time late-night shopping has taken place across a British city centre.

The area involved includes the enormous Arndale Centre, Market Street and Selfridges. UltraViolet director Christopher Moyles said the first phase, which has just kicked off, involves more than 120 stores including independent retailers and high-street brands.

The second phase will begin in the autumn, when Next opens its biggest UK store in the city.

'The campaign centres on the idea that Manchester city centre can be used for shopping outside standard office hours,' explained Moyles.

'We want to challenge the concept that the city switches from a working place to a drinking place at 6pm on the dot.'

Many retailers are believed to be waiting to judge how the idea is received by the public, but city officials are confident that more shops will sign up to the project if it proves to be a success.

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